A jumbled-up lineup provided the Colorado Rockies with a chance to snap out of its offensive funk on Sunday afternoon. However, the Arizona Diamondbacks simply can’t be stopped at the moment it seems.
Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury each launched sixth-inning home runs as the Diamondbacks finished off a sweep of Colorado with a 5-1 win before 33,838 fans at Coors Field. It was 10th consecutive win for Arizona while Colorado has dropped five of the first six games of this nine-game homestand.
With the Milwaukee Brewers downing the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon, Colorado’s hold on the second Wild Card spot slipped to just a half-game. Arizona moved to 6.5 games ahead of the Rockies for the race to host Game 163, meaning Colorado’s focus is now simply making the playoffs, no matter where they play on October 4.
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Colorado made noise before the game by announcing a lineup without Nolan Arenado (rest day), Ryan McMahon filling in for a slumping Mark Reynolds and the first three batters of the lineup being DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon, in that order.
The lineup swap provided one of the more interesting stats in the fifth inning. With Blackmon moved from his customary leadoff spot to third in the lineup and LeMahieu slotted into the leadoff role, Chuck Nazty was able to return the scoring favor to his friend and teammate.
LeMahieu led off the fifth inning with a single and moved to second after Gonzalez drew a walk. Blackmon then smoked an RBI single past Marte and into left-center field, allowing LeMahieu to score and temporarily tying the game at 1-1.
While LeMahieu has knocked Blackmon in 24 times, that RBI single was the first time this season that Blackmon had plated LeMahieu. However, that was the lone bright spot in what has been a nightmarish stretch for the Rockies with runners in scoring position.
Marquez overwhelmed Arizona at times on Sunday, scattering three hits through the game’s first five innings. However, the Diamondbacks started the sixth with Marte’s solo blast to left and a single from Jake Lamb. After Marquez recorded with last strikeout of the day with a punchout of Chris Iannetta, Drury launched an 0-2 mistake from Marquez into the right field seats to balloon Arizona’s lead to 4-1.
Through the first five innings, Marquez allowed three hits while striking out eight Diamondbacks. In three of the first four batters of the sixth inning, Arizona equaled that amount. That would prove to be the difference.
Colorado had a chance to make some noise in the eighth with Blackmon and Gerardo Parra leading the inning off with singles. However, Arizona reliever Jimmie Sherfy struck out Trevor Story, Arenado (as a pinch hitter) and Pat Valaika to end the threat.
Colorado will look to change its luck when the San Francisco Giants come to Denver to start a three-game set on Labor Day afternoon. Chad Bettis will face the Giants for the second consecutive Labor Day. Last year, he recorded a two-hit, complete-game shutout against them. A performance like that is desperately needed by the Rockies right now.