Colorado Rockies morning after: A shaky 8th inning nearly costs Rockies a win
The Colorado Rockies had everything going well for them through seven innings.
Raimel Tapia and Connor Joe had both been on four times each at the top of the lineup as both had two hits and two walks.
Ryan McMahon, Josh Fuentes, and Yonathan Daza combined to have seven hits, a walk, and five RBI themselves.
Chi Chi Gonzalez was rolling, having 88 pitches through seven innings of shutting out the best offense in the National League entering the game …. and then the Rockies pulled Gonzalez, after letting him hit in the previous inning.
The bullpen, which had the second-worst ERA in the NL only to the Reds entering the game, then proceeded to allow eight runs in the 8th inning.
Rookie Lucas Gilbreath was tagged for three runs after he retired just one batter, ballooning his ERA to 10.13. Former Reds reliever Robert Stephenson was tagged for four runs himself. With that outing and his previous outing (1/3 IP, 1 ER), his ERA has swelled from 2.51 to 5.40.
Mychal Givens ended up giving up all of the inherited runners from Stephenson when he allowed a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, rookie infielder Jonathan India but he ended up stopping the bleeding at eight runs in the frame.
The Rockies came back and scored three runs in the 8th after Dom Nunez got on base for the first time all night with a one-out walk. Nunez scored on a Daza double (his third hit of the night) and India made a throwing error to the plate. Alan Trejo, who was playing shortstop for Trevor Story, who had the night off, had a sacrifice fly and Garrett Hampson homered to make it a 13-8 game, which is where it stayed.
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So why did the Rockies pull Chi Chi Gonzalez?
Originally, the thought process seemed very puzzling. Why would you let your pitcher hit (to lead off an inning) and then pull him?
Manager Bud Black said that it was a fairly simple reason behind it: he didn’t want to burn a bat off the bench.
They, essentially, had a two-man bench of Elias Diaz and Garrett Hampson. Hampson later appeared in the game (and homered) but Black did not want to use his backup catcher or Trevor Story. Matt Adams was also “unavailable” due to an undisclosed possible injury, for which Black said he would have an update on Friday.
Gonzalez only had 88 pitches but Black said that Gonzalez had “emptied the tank” in the 7th inning and cited his fastball velocity (which had dropped 3 MPH in the inning) as the reason to pull him.
The problem was that the bullpen shouldn’t come close to relinquishing a 10 run lead at all, let alone the same inning.
Gonzalez was named the Rockies player of the game by his teammates and was rewarded with “the chain,” which is given out after the team wins.
It was the first time he had thrown six innings since September 28, 2019, when he faced Milwaukee. The last time he threw more than six innings was on September 3, 2019, when he had 6 1/3 IP.
The last time he had seven or more innings of work was on June 16, 2015, when he was with Texas in his 4th MLB appearance/start when he went 8 1/3 IP against the Dodgers.
Regardless of the bullpen nearly blowing the game, the Rockies did score 13 runs (or nearly double taco’s for our friends on Twitter) and they won.
Are there issues with the bullpen? Yes. Are there issues with the team? Yes, but a win is a win and the Rockies will look to make it a winning streak tonight when Germán Márquez heads to the mound to face the former Arizona Diamondback Wade Miley, who no-hit the Cleveland Indians in his last start.