Colorado Rockies: Scott Oberg’s weather-delayed return was a success
After being sent to Triple-A on April 24 to work on some things with his delivery and the timing of it, Colorado Rockies reliever Scott Oberg worked hard to make it back to Denver. However, Mother Nature made him sweat a little more before he returned to Coors Field.
Recalled on Monday, Oberg was with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes in Sacramento when he got word he was coming back to the Rockies. With Adam Ottavino going on the 10-day disabled list with a sore oblique, Colorado needed Oberg in the bullpen for that night’s game against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. However, the weather in the Denver area had other plans.
With tornadic storms in the area and a weather delay occurring at Coors Field, Oberg’s Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Denver was diverted to, of all places, Albuquerque.
"“I didn’t know about the weather in Denver. Pilot came on and he’s like, ‘Oh hey, there’s bad weather on the ground in Denver. They’re shutting down DIA right now. We don’t have enough fuel to circle around so we’re going to take it to Albuquerque and refuel there,’” Oberg smiled as he talked to Rox Pile and other members of the media on Tuesday night inside the Colorado clubhouse. “At that point, I bought the Internet and texted some people I had to text and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a little bit late tonight.’“I started laughing on the plane. I thought I left Albuquerque.”"
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Oberg finally made it to Coors Field about the eighth inning but wasn’t used in Colorado’s 6-5, 10-inning win over the Giants.
One of the biggest reasons that Oberg was sent to Albuquerque was his inability to keep runners already on base from scoring. In 2017, just six of 38 runners Oberg inherited scored. In his initial 10 appearances of 2018, 11 of 13 inherited runners crossed the plate.
In his first appearance back on Tuesday night, Oberg entered the game in relief of starter Kyle Freeland and inherited Brandon Belt on first base with one out. The first batter Oberg faced, Mac Williamson, lined a double to right, moving Belt to third. From there, however, Oberg bore down, getting Brandon Crawford to line out to Nolan Arenado and inducing Kelby Tomlinson into a groundout. Belt and Williamson were left on the bases.
It was a big sequence as it kept a 6-3 Rockies lead from shrinking and stole momentum that San Francisco had earned earlier in the inning with homers from Buster Posey and Evan Longoria.
"“Early in the year, I cashed in a few of his runs,” Oberg said of Freeland. “At that point, we were up three. To be able to pick him up like that and leave those guys out there, that was big for Kyle and big for the team.”"
Colorado manager Bud Black said that the Rockies wanted to see Oberg with a quicker delivery to home when runners were on base. On Tuesday night, that was one of Oberg’s focuses.
"“I get in and they wanted me to work on getting a little bit quicker on getting to the plate with guys on base,” Oberg said. “I haven’t had the amount of success I’d like to have had with inherited runners but things kind of came together a little bit tonight. It was a nice outing.”"
And were there any nerves, considering a new focus in his delivery and a return the mound in a big situation?
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"“I wouldn’t necessarily say nerves but making those adjustments again back to being in certain situations and having the surroundings of a big league game versus a Minor League game,” Oberg said. “Getting readjusted and being able to do it as quickly as possible.”"