Colorado Rockies morning after: Walks haunting Rox pitchers

It turned out to be a walk in the (Oracle) Park for San Francisco in its three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies over the weekend.

The Giants completed the sweep on Sunday with a 4-0 win, handing the Rockies their first shutout loss of 2021 and dropping the team’s record to 3-7.

Seeing its first road action of the campaign, Colorado Rockies pitchers issued 18 free passes in the series and San Francisco obligingly took advantage of the Rox generosity.

Of the 18 walks surrendered by Colorado Rockies pitchers, eight either directly or indirectly led to seven of San Francisco’s 11 runs scored in the series.

In the series opener on Friday, Rox starting pitcher Austin Gomber permitted just one hit over the first six innings of a scoreless contest. But in the seventh, Gomber — who allowed four of the team’s seven walks on the day — issued a pair of one-out walks before he was replaced by Tyler Kinley, who promptly surrendered a base on balls to the first batter he faced before Brandon Crawford stroked a two-run double for the game’s first runs.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with Colorado reliever Robert Stephenson on the mound, a walk sandwiched between a pair of singles preceded an RBI single by the Giants’ Alex Dickerson for San Francisco’s final run in a 3-1 victory.

Then, on Saturday, the Rockies took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Colorado manager Bud Black called on Ben Bowden from the bullpen to replace starter Chi Chi Gonzalez. But the left-hander walked the first two hitters he faced before Crawford slammed a go-ahead three-run home run that proved to be the difference in San Francisco’s 4-3 win.

For a second straight day, Rox pitchers gave up seven walks to the Giants.

Entering the series finale on Sunday, Colorado hurlers in nine games this season had issued an MLB-leading 48 walks — nine more than the second-place Los Angeles Angels. Compare that to a season ago as the Rockies pitching staff did not surpass 48 walks until the 21st game of the 2020 campaign.

In his pre-game press conference with media Sunday morning, including Rox Pile, Black acknowledged that Rox pitchers — both starters and relievers — have to cut down on their inability to find the strike zone.

“There’s some things that I am not happy with with our bullpen and overall with our pitching staff,” Black said. “We have walked way too many guys …. That’s shouldn’t happen at the rate it is happening.”

On Sunday, Rox pitchers permitted just four walks but San Francisco once again took advantage of those mistakes.

In the home half of the first inning, Colorado starter German Marquez was nicked by Dickerson’s two-out solo home run to give the Giants a 1-0 advantage. Marquez followed up the home run with a walk to Brandon Belt. After Belt stole second base, he scored on a base hit by Evan Longoria and Colorado was in a quick 2-0 hole.

Then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Carlos Estevez gave up a double to Mike Yastrzemksi and allowed a two-out walk to Belt to set the stage for Longoria’s second run-scoring single of the day while driving in the game’s final run.

The proliferation of walks by Rockies pitchers that has led to runs becomes magnified, particularly when the team’s offense scores just a combined four runs in three games like it did in San Francisco. In Sunday’s series finale, Colorado stranded 12 runners on base.

Charlie Blackmon continued his early-season struggles at the plate leaving a couple of runners on board in the third inning before grounding out with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

In addition, Rockies batters struck out 10 times on Sunday and 29 times in the series.

The Rockies will have little time to dwell on the losses in San Francisco as they travel to Los Angeles for a three-game set with the Dodgers that starts on Tuesday.

Colorado grabbed an 8-5 victory in the 2021 season opener against the Dodgers at Coors Field before Los Angeles responded by winning the final three games of the series.

 

Antonio Senzatela is slated to start Tuesday’s contest while Trevor Bauer is the Dodgers’ scheduled starter. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. (Mountain time).