Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black always loves to say, “Be ready for anything.” On Thursday afternoon, it felt like that mantra was in full effect at Coors Field.
While Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks fans were still trying to figure out how to watch the matinee game on Facebook, Arizona starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (he of the 7-2 mark and 2.01 ERA) was scratched from the mound before he ever threw a pitch. It was later revealed that he had right elbow tightness and couldn’t make the start.
It was that kind of day for Arizona, a team that couldn’t figure out the continued mastery of Kyle Freeland on a warm, sunlit afternoon in downtown Denver. Freeland allowed just two hits through the game’s first six innings to boost Colorado to a 10-3 decision, cementing their hold at the National League West lead.
The Rockies now hit the road for their last trip of the season, a journey that will take them through San Francisco, Los Angeles and Phoenix in a gauntlet of division foes. It’s also the last games of the regular season against NL West opponents. To say the trip is important to Colorado’s chances at their first-ever division title is way understating its significance.
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But back to Thursday. After a slightly delayed start to allow fill-in starter Matt Koch to warm up, David Dahl welcomed Koch to the mound with a quick hard-hit single to right. Two batters later, after DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double play, Nolan Arenado smashed the first pitch he saw from Koch 464 feet and well over the left field wall for his 34th homer and 100th RBI of the season. It gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead and handed Arenado his fourth consecutive season with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI.
By the way, the home run went 464 feet, the longest of Arenado’s career … at least since Statcast began measuring.
Koch simply didn’t work for Arizona’s plans on Thursday afternoon but fit into a churning Rockies offensive outburst just fine. That included an RBI double from Kyle Freeland (yes, the pitcher) to deep center and a two-run blast from Trevor Story that was the MVP candidate’s 34thhomer of the season. His 471-foot bomb was his 33rdof the season, setting a new franchise mark for long balls by a shortstop in a season and erasing another Troy Tulowitzki reference from the Colorado history books.
Your crazy stat of the day? Through the fourth inning, Dahl and Freeland each had a single, double and RBI. Not bad for your pitcher and leadoff man.
And not a bad day for the Rockies, who sent the Diamondbacks further back in the standings. Arizona is now 4.5 games behind Colorado in the NL West with 15 games left on the slate, including three against the Rockies at Chase Field next week. The Diamondbacks now go to Houston to play the Astros for three and then return home to meet the Chicago Cubs. It seems like very, very desperate times in the desert.
Freeland left in the top of the seventh after giving up a triple to Steven Souza Jr. (on a ball that was misplayed by Dahl) and double to Nick Ahmed (on a ball that was misplayed by Gerardo Parra). He walked off the field after throwing 82 pitches (62 for strikes) and was accompanied by Rockies head trainer Keith Duggar. However, he told us after the game it was nothing to worry about, as Rockies fans let out a collective sigh of relief at the news.
With the win, Colorado is now 81-65. Their 81 wins through 146 are the second-most in franchise history (one behind the 2009 squad). They also finished the 10-game homestand against NL West foes with a 7-3 mark.