PHOENIX — Down 7-0 after three innings, the Colorado Rockies needed its offense to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. And hey, what better place to actually see that happen than … well … in Phoenix?
Trevor Story hit a go-ahead single in the top of the ninth and C.J. Cron added an RBI groundout later in the frame to complete an unanswered streak of nine runs to push the Colorado Rockies to a 9-7 win in the final series-opening game of the 2021 campaign.
Here’s why the Colorado Rockies win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night was one for the history books
Friday night’s victory marked the first time the Rockies had registered a comeback win after trailing by seven or more runs since August 25, 2010, when they were down by nine to the Atlanta Braves and rallied for a 12-10 decision.
After the game, Colorado manager Bud Black said that, even at the lowest point of the game, there was a sense in the Rockies dugout that a comeback could happen.
“Even early in the game, our guys, there’s a feeling that this could happen,” Black said. “That’s a good thing in the big picture. We didn’t really talk about it in the dugout, but there was a tangible feeling that what we did tonight could happen, and that’s what you want from a team.”
Colorado needed to rally after an outing by starting pitcher Jon Gray that was anything but normal. Gray didn’t allow a baserunner in the game’s first two innings as the right-hander struck out four of the six batters he faced. However, in the third, Arizona touched him for seven runs on seven hits, including three home runs.
That, however, was the vast majority of damage that the Diamondbacks would do against Rockies pitching in the first game of October. Five Rockies relievers would combine to allow just two hits the rest of the night. In all, Colorado pitchers struck out 16 Diamondbacks while issuing just one walk.
Carlos Estévez earned his 11th save of the season with a 12-pitch ninth inning, striking out the final two batters of the night.
“It’s a high-energy clubhouse right now,” Colorado catcher Dom Nuñez said postgame after leading off the top of the ninth with a solo homer off Arizona’s Caleb Smith that tied the game at 7-7.
While the three runs in the ninth will be talked about as the rally completed, it was a six-run explosion by the Rockies in the sixth that set the table for the comeback to occur. Six of the first seven batters of the inning recorded a hit, with Sam Hilliard’s three-run homer putting an exclamation point on the outburst.
Leadoff batter Raimel Tapia went 0-for-5 and was the only starting position player to not record at least one hit for Colorado, which moved 24 games ahead of the Diamondbacks in the standings with the win.
The two teams will resume their series on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. (Pacific)/6:10 p.m. (Mountain), with Colorado’s Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.10 ERA) squaring off against Arizona’s Zac Gallen (3-10, 4.37 ERA).