Colorado Rockies morning after: 3 things learned from the Dodgers series

Jul 18, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Charlie Blackmon (19) hits a walk-off home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the tenth inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Charlie Blackmon (19) hits a walk-off home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the tenth inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports /

In life, some things change while others appear to always remain the same. Case in point, the recent futility of the Colorado Rockies when opposing the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But for one afternoon at Coors Field, at least, the Colorado Rockies were able to exorcise some demons against the defending World Series champions and — as has been the case this season — the Rox did it with flair.

Charlie Blackmon clubbed a walk-off solo home run to cap a two-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning to propel Colorado to a 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon to capture the final contest of a three-game series and snap an eight-game losing streak against the team’s National League West rival.

The victory was also the 10th walk-off win for the Rockies (41-53) in 2021, tops in the Majors, and matches the franchise mark for a season set by the 2010 club.

With the win, nearly one-fourth of the team’s victories this season have come in the Rox last at bat.

Jon Gray, who started Sunday’s game on the mound for Colorado, while allowing just six hits and two earned runs (courtesy of Justin Turner’s two-run round-tripper in the third inning), spoke about the team’s “never-say-die” attitude.

"“Exactly, Exactly. We just don’t give in,” Gray told media, including Rox Pile, after his season-high seven-inning stint. “We will fight to the end and that’s what we have to do, especially in games like today.“You got to dish it out (in) that ninth and 10th inning. They’re going to happen. When you are competing in close ball games, that’s a good thing. So we will count that as a strength and will look forward to that and move on. I think we are going to do great.”"

Gray fanned seven on Sunday while moving into second place on the club’s career strikeout charts. The right-hander now has 779 strikeouts to trail all-time-leader Jorge De La Rosa, who finished with 985.

Entering the series, Colorado had not defeated the Dodgers (58-36) since an 8-5 Opening Day win April 1 at Coors Field. Since 2018, Los Angeles is now 43-16 against the Rox, which is the second-best record against any divisional opponent in Major League Baseball.

Despite being 22 games over .500 overall, the Dodgers, interestingly, are just 1-9 in extra-inning games in 2021. The Rox, meanwhile, improved to 5-5.

After outscoring Colorado by a 19-6 margin in the opening two games of the series, the Dodgers looked like they were headed for a sweep and their second extra-inning victory Sunday after Will Smith smacked a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez to give Los Angeles a 4-3 lead.

But the Rockies manufactured a run off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth inning as Chirs Owings drove in Ryan McMahon with one-out run-scoring single to knot the game at 4-4 and send it to extras.

The Dodgers tallied a run in the top of the 10th off Mychal Givens for a 5-4 advantage. But the Rox responded in the bottom of the frame as Trevor Story, who struck out in his first four at bats, plated Garrett Hampson with a sacrifice fly to set the stage for Blackmon’s dramatic two-out home run — his second walk-off homer and third walk-off hit of the season.

Here are three things we learned from the Dodgers series, which opened up the unofficial second half of the season following the All-Star Game break:

1. This is a resilient bunch of Rockies: Colorado battled from behind on three occasions in Sunday’s win against the Dodgers to log its Major League-best 10th walk-off win. Rockies Bench Coach Mike Redmond hopes the team can build off the momentum of the big victory.

“It just continues to give us more and more confidence,” Redmond told media, including Rox Pile, Sunday afternoon. Redmond is filling in for Manager Bud Black while Black is being held out per MLB COVID and contract tracing protocols.

“We have played really well coming into the All-Star break,” Redmond added. “That series in San Diego — to win the series there and then take a few days off. Obviously, we have had some stuff come up.

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“But, like I said, this is a resilient group. We have played really well at home. I think we are all very confident of the fact that we could win that game today. It was nice to get that win, but hopefully this just continues to help us along the path of this season. We take a day off (Monday) which we definitely need,  regroup, enjoy the win and get ready for the Mariners on Tuesday.”

2. Chuck Nazty is Mr. Clutch: With his game-winning hit Sunday, Blackmon joins Dante Bichette as the only players in franchise history to amass three walk-off hits in a single season. Bichette turned the trick in 1996. Blackmon now has seven career walk-off hits, including five via home runs. The home run total matches Bichette’s mark for second place on the Rox career charts behind Todd Helton’s seven.

3. Owings showing value after his return: The versatile Owings played a big role in Sunday’s win. Besides his RBI single to even the game in the ninth, he had a single in the fifth inning and came around to score on a Los Angeles error. Owings now is batting .326 this season with hits in each of his last four contests. That success has come after he endured an 0-for-16 stretch in his first 10 games on the active roster following left thumb surgery. He was reinstated from the IL on June 22.

After Monday’s off day from action, Colorado continues its current homestand with a brief two-game set against Seattle.

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German Marquez (8-6, 3.36), fresh from his one-inning scoreless stint for the National League in the All-Star Game in Denver on July 13, is scheduled to get the starting nod on the mound for the opener with the Mariners on Tuesday. Game time is set for 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time).