Two deep fly balls. One caught. One not. That was the difference between the Colorado Rockies and the Miami Marlins on Monday night at Coors Field.
Colorado’s offense was once again on the blink as Miami started the three-game series in LoDo by posting a 5-4 victory for the fourth consecutive win over the Rockies this season. Miami swept Colorado in a three-game series in south Florida in August.
The difference in the game could well be a play that Giancarlo Stanton made that Ian Desmond simply couldn’t. In baseball, there are moments that can turn a game. These two moments were critical to the outcome.
Jonathan Lucroy opened the bottom of the third with a triple just past the diving Stanton, setting the Rockies up with an excellent scoring opportunity. Tyler Chatwood popped out and Charlie Blackmon grounded out, leaving the chance to put Colorado on the scoreboard to DJ LeMahieu.
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On the first pitch, LeMahieu drilled a deep fly to right-center. Stanton caught it as he crashed into not only the wall but center fielder Christian Yelich as well. Somehow, he held on and Colorado’s scoring threat had been suddenly snuffed out.
In the top of the fourth, Chatwood, who had been in command through the first three innings, completely fell apart. After striking out Yelich to open the frame, Chatwood surrendered five consecutive hits … with the fifth being the most damaging of all.
With the bases loaded, Miguel Rojas cranked a deep fly to left that just went over Desmond’s glove. It became a three-run double and part of a career-high four RBI on the night for Rojas.
"“It’s a game of inches, isn’t it?” Colorado manager Bud Black asked after the game. “That ball was smoked. I haven’t seen the replay but it looked like it hit his glove and maybe beat him. From my vantage point, I couldn’t tell. It was a bullet. He made a valiant effort by jumping but it just tipped off his glove. That’s what I saw.“That was a key hit obviously.”"
On a night when Colorado’s pitchers held Stanton hitless as he continued his quest for 60 home runs this season, they couldn’t keep him from making a contribution that turned the game.
Oh, and to add a little insult to injury for the Rockies, Trevor Story sent a fly ball to the very corner where the left field and center field fences meet to open the seventh inning. As the crowd noise grew, Marcell Ozuna hauled in the catch just before he hit the fence. Another chance for the Rockies. Another catch for the Marlins.
Certainly the Rockies had their chances. Plenty of them in fact. However, the big elusive hit that has hid from this team for so many games now kept in the shadows on Monday night. Charlie Blackmon’s screaming line drive that looked so good off the bat went for a game-ending unassisted double play at first. As Black would say, “That’s baseball.” It’s also frustrating.
Colorado now holds a 1.5-game Wild Card lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, who were idle on Monday night and begin a three-game series at the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. The St. Louis Cardinals were trounced by the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium but stay just 2.5 games behind the Rockies.