All good things must come to an end. Such was the case for the Colorado Rockies following an 8-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday at Coors Field.
The loss halted Colorado’s season-long five-game winning streak, snapped the team’s seven-game winning string against Arizona and ended the Rox nine-game home winning streak.
Still, by winning two of three games against Arizona when coupled with a three-game sweep of San Diego prior to the D-Backs series, the Rockies (57-67) finished the homestand with a 5-1 mark to improve the club’s record at Coors Field this season to 43-22—the most home wins in the Majors.
An old bugaboo helped do in the Colorado Rockies on Sunday: the base on balls.
In particular, the Colorado Rockies had a problem with allowing base on balls with the bases loaded.
Leading 3-1 after five innings, Arizona (42-83) pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning—without virtue of a hit—against Rox starting pitcher Jon Gray and a pair of relievers to take a four-run lead that Colorado could not overcome.
Gray (7-10) had eight strikeouts but also issued three walks in 5.1 innings. Two of those walks came in the fateful sixth inning and led to his removal from the game by Rox manager Bud Black.
Black summoned from the bullpen left-hander Lucas Gilbreath, who had been pitching well recently, promptly walked two more Arizona hitters to force in one run. For Gilbreath, the bases-loaded walk was the third of his career and marked the first time a Rockies pitcher had issued three bases-loaded walks in a season since Jorge De La Rosa did so in 2015.
But Colorado’s hospitality in the inning was not done. After Gilbreath, Black brought in Robert Stephenson with two out and the bases loaded. Stephenson issued the fifth base on balls of the inning for Rox pitchers to force in Arizona’s second run of the frame and make it a 5-1 contest.
The struggles for Gilbreath and Stephenson were part of a tough day for the Rockies bullpen. Stephenson would end up surrendering a solo home run in the seventh inning while Rox relievers Ben Bowden and Yency Almonte each gave up a run in one inning of mound duty apiece.
Before Sunday’s action, the Colorado bullpen had been on a roll having compiled a 2.01 earned run average (31.1 IP, 7 ER) in the team’s last nine games. In fact, the 2.01 ERA since August 12 was the second-best mark in the Majors behind only the 1.88 ERA for the Dodgers bullpen.
Despite the loss Sunday to the Diamondbacks, several good things happened in the back-to-back series with San Diego and Arizona. Here are 3 things to like from the series.
1. Connor Joe is developing into a solid leadoff hitter
With Raimel Tapia on the Injured List due to a right big toe sprain, Joe has stepped into the leadoff spot and taken advantage of his opportunity.
In Sunday’s loss, he reached base four of five trips to the plate (a hit, two walks and a hit by pitch). He scored two runs and drove in another with a seventh-inning double. Now hitting .285, he has reached base safely in 29 of 32 games as a starter.
Entering action Sunday, in 20 games as a starter since his most recent recall from Triple-A on July 20, he was slashing .313/.371/.550.
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2. C.J. Cron is on fire
C.J. Cron may be the hottest hitter in baseball right now when you consider the numbers he has posted in August. Entering action Sunday, he topped the Majors in runs batted in (27) and slugging percentage (.852) in August.
Cron had his streak of seven consecutive multi-hit games at home snapped on Saturday night, which was the longest home streak by a Rockies player in nearly 20 years (Larry Walker in 2002 was the last to have a string of seven consecutive multi-hit games at Coors Field).
3. Pinch-hitting proficiency
In a category that oftentimes gets overlooked, Colorado pinch-hitters this season have proved to be quite proficient. Entering action Sunday, Colorado’s .246 pinch-hitting average (45-for-183) was the fourth-best mark in the Majors.
The 45 pinch hits are the fifth-best total. Garrett Hampson’s pinch-hit, game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning Saturday night ignited a rally against Arizona that eventually was capped by a three-run, two-out walk-off homer by Elias Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. The Rox nine pinch-hit home runs is second in the majors behind San Francisco’s 13.
Colorado now prepares for a 10-day, nine-game road trip that will take the Rockies to Chicago to meet the Cubs, then to the Dodgers, and finally to Texas, with three games in each city.
First up will be a 6:10 p.m. (Mountain time) first pitch Monday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Antonio Senzatela (2-9, 4.58) is slated to take the mound for the Rockies. Both Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry and Noah Yingling will be there at Wrigley for the entirety of the series so be sure to check the site and our Twitter page regularly with updates from Wrigley Field.