Colorado Rockies morning after: 3 things we learned from Reds series split

May 16, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Josh Fuentes (8) reacts to his double in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Josh Fuentes (8) reacts to his double in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, an afternoon of pins and needles in hoping the leaky Colorado Rockies bullpen could hold on to another late-inning lead has passed.

And, true to form, the Colorado Rockies bullpen squandered a five-run cushion over the final two innings that turned a seemingly comfortable 6-1 Rockies lead into an eventual 7-6 setback Sunday in the finale of a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field.

After winning the first two games of the series, followed by an extra-inning loss to the Reds Saturday night, the Rox (15-26) ended up with a split from the four games instead of notching their fifth series win of the season.

Colorado relievers needed just six outs to try and protect the five-run advantage that the team’s offense provided on Sunday. But over the course of the last two innings, five Rox relievers called on by manager Bud Black permitted six runs on five hits, with four walks and a hit batsman included.

Toss in the fact that the tying and winning runs plated by Cincinnati did not come from the Reds offense but rather via Rockies’ defensive and pitching miscues — a passed ball (allowed game-tying run) and a wild pitch (allowed game-winning run) — and you have the recipe for a second frustrating one-run loss in less than 24 hours (Rox dropped a 6-5 decision in 12 innings to Reds on Saturday night).

Surrendering the 6-1 advantage entering the eighth frame Sunday was Colorado’s biggest blown lead of the season and the first time this campaign that the team has lost when leading after the seventh or eighth innings.

Instead of having some momentum with a series win to conclude a seven-game homestand (Rox went 3-4 to stand 13-12 at home in 2021), Colorado now heads to San Diego for a three-game set beginning Monday. The Rox will hope to improve on their dismal 2-14 road record this season before they return home for three contests against Arizona.

The loss spoiled a solid outing by Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela, who made his second start after having missed action earlier this season due to a right groin strain. The right-hander permitted just one run on four hits in seven innings with only one walk and three strikeouts while tossing 60 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

Black was impressed with Senzatela’s eighth outing of the year and his third quality start.

"“I thought he did something, especially as the game moved on, (with) the separation of velocities,” Black told media, including Rox Pile, after the game. “I think his last pitch of the game — the ground ball to short (to retire Kyle Farmer to end the seventh) was 94 or 95 miles per hour. And there were pitches in the low 70s with that slow curveball. That great of variance in the velocities was something we haven’t seen from Senza. He had a good feel for his curveball. I think he just kept taking a little bit extra off it to create that separation.”"

With the outing, Senzatela lowered his earned run average from 5.97 to 5.18 although he was not able to get his second win of 2021.

Besides Senza’s performance and the collapse of the bullpen Sunday (Rox relievers almost gave away big leads in the team’s two wins against the Reds (10-0 Rockies lead closed to 10-8 in 13-8 victory Thursday and 8-2 lead dwindled to the final 9-6 margin in a victory Friday), there are other points to mull.

Here are 3 things we learned from the Colorado Rockies-Cincinnati Reds series:

More from Rox Pile

1. Josh Fuentes continues his recent tear at the plate

Fuentes amassed three hits, scored two runs, and drove in two others on Sunday for his fifth career three-hit game and second such performance in the Cincinnati series. He now has multiple RBI in five straight contests to match a franchise record. Interestingly, all 23 of the runs he has knocked in this season have come at Coors Field. On Sunday, he had a two-run double to ignite Colorado’s five-run fourth inning and then scored after getting on board with a two-out single to give the Rockies its 6-1 advantage in the fifth.

2. At age 33, Jhoulys Chacin has more left in the tank

Chacin was called on for a start Saturday night and the right-hander responded by permitting just two runs (on a two-run homer) in four innings on four hits with three strikeouts and a walk. It was his first start in a Rockies uniform since June of 2014. At 33 years, 128 days old, Chacin is the oldest Rockies starting pitcher since Jorge De La Rosa started for the club at age 35 years, 168 days old in September of 2016.

3. Rox drop first game of season with 10 or more hits at home

Despite getting 10 hits on Sunday, Colorado dropped its first game of 2021 with double-digit hits at Coors Field. The Rockies are now 9-1 at home when they collect 10 or more hits. Overall, the Rox are 10-3 in that scenario this season and still have a 41-run margin against opponents in those 13 games (108-67).

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Jon Gray (4-3, 2.93) gets the start for Colorado against San Diego in the series opener Monday at Petco Park. First pitch is slated for 8:10 p.m. (Mountain time).