Colorado Rockies morning after: 3 things we learned from the Cubs series

Jul 2, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (43) pitches in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 2, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (43) pitches in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

He did not hit a pair of homers, including the go-ahead two-run blast in the fifth inning. He did not get the victory in relief. In fact, he did not even earn the save for the Colorado Rockies.

Jhoulys Chacin did not do any of the above on Thursday afternoon in the series finale between the Rockies and Chicago Cubs at Coors Field.

What Chacin did do, though, was toss two scoreless innings of relief — surrendering no hits — during a key juncture of the game to help the Colorado Rockies hold on for a 6-5 victory against the Cubs before a crowd of 30,462.

Coupled with a win on Tuesday night, Colorado captured the three-game series between the two National League opponents, giving the Rox their 11th series win of the 2021 season. Of the 11, all but one series win has come at home.

But, as with many of the Rockies’ series victories this year, this one did not come easy.

Buoyed by the return on the mound of Antonio Senzatela following MLB COVID and contact tracing protocols, Colorado jumped to an early 4-0 lead through four innings.

In those first four innings, Senzatela struck out six consecutive Cubs hitters at one point before Chicago rallied to score four runs off the right-hander in the top of the fifth inning to knot the game at 4-4 and end Senzatela’s first appearance since July 7.

Colorado manager Bud Black called on Tyler Kinley (the eventual winner) to relieve Senzatela and, after Kinley allowed two hits and a run to open the sixth inning, Black summoned Chacin from the bullpen for the second straight game with the Rox leading 6-5.

Chacin responded by retiring six of the seven batters he faced, giving up only a walk to Rafael Ortega to start the seventh inning.

His scoreless effort extended to 10 his current string of scoreless outings this season, the longest such streak of his 10-year MLB career.

Black noted the impact Chacin has had on the team’s bullpen.

"“Today was huge what he did,” the manager said. “He pitched last (Wednesday) night, so coming on back-to-back days, I asked him to go a couple of innings.“He has shown a knack to make pitches at the most critical junctures,” Black added. “He has made a pitch or has got an out which is a knack of a quality pitcher. Is it going to happen all the time? No. But so far when we have inserted him into these type situations, and that is what we have been doing lately, he has responded. Again, It tells you a lot about the guy. It tells you about his poise on the mound, his pitchability. … He is just a heady, veteran, dependable pitcher.”"

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Chacin’s scoreless appearance was followed by one-inning relief stints from Carlos Estevez and Daniel Bard, each of whom retired Chicago in order in the final two innings. Bard hurled the ninth to earn his 17th save of the season, a career high.

Offensively, Colorado batters exploded for 13 hits with four of those hits being home runs. Trevor Story swatted a pair of homers, including the tie-breaking, two-run homer in the fifth that provided the eventual game-winning run. Story extended his hitting streak to a season-long eight games and now has 17 career multi-homer games to his credit.

Connor Joe and Sam Hilliard each went deep for the Rox as well. Joe also had a pair of hits and was joined at that number by Raimel Tapia and Brendan Rogers. Tapia extended his hitting streak to nine games while Rogers has a current hitting streak of 12 games, a career best.

Here are 3 things we learned about the Rox from the Cubs series:

1. Hilliard continues power surge

With his homer Thursday, Hilliard now has slugged round-trippers in three of his last four contests and has five home runs in 13 games since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on July 16.

2. Bard, Estevez show bullpen consistency

The 1-2-3 innings for both relievers Thursday gave each pitcher back-to-back scoreless outings against the Cubs.

3. Team reaps success in confines of Coors Field

Since May 21, Colorado is 22-9 at home for a .710 winning percentage. The team’s home mark during that time is tops in the Majors.

Next. 3 numbers to know from the Rockies-Cubs series. dark

Following the series with Chicago, the Rox continue the current homestand by opening a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. Germán Márquez (9-8, 3.51) is slated to take the mound for the Rox with game time set for 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time).