Some wins for the Colorado Rockies just seem bigger than others.
After getting three hits and bolting to a 2-0 first-inning lead, Rox bats fell silent for the next six innings, getting no base hits after the opening frame against Giants starter Logan Webb.
In the meantime, San Francisco (22-15) scored three runs against Colorado starter Kyle Freeland and took a one-run advantage into the bottom of the eighth inning.
It appeared the Rockies (18-19) were primed to drop their 10th contest in their last 12 games and their 13th consecutive contest at the hands of the defending National League West champions.
The 12-game streak matches the team’s second-longest losing streak against a single team in franchise history (franchise record: 16 straight losses to the Atlanta Braves from 1993-94).
But six outs away from suffering a ninth straight setback to the Giants at Coors Field, something happened that changed Colorado’s fortunes.
Colorado manager Bud Black went to his bench for help.
Black called on Connor Joe to pinch hit for catcher Brian Serven, making his Major League debut, to lead off the home half of the eighth.
From there on, it was pure magic for the Rox.
Joe promptly lined Webb’s second pitch to left field for a leadoff single, ending the day for the Giants right-hander, and igniting a rally.
“In Denver, it’s different that pitching in San Francisco,” Joe said about facing Webb, who was 5-1 entering the game with a solid 3.48 earned run average.
“Kind of just what we call ‘weather the storm,’” Joe added. “He has a good arm. Good pitcher. But we’re really a good offense, too. You see a guy for three or four times around the lineup and you are going to get him. We did today, which was really fun.”
Charlie Blackmon then moved Joe to second base with a bunt against San Francisco reliever Jose Alvarez, who had relieved Webb.
Yonathan Daza followed with an opposite field single to right to drive in Joe and knot the contest at 3-3. The run-scoring blow extended his hitting streak to a career-long 11 games.
Not done yet, C.J. Cron blasted an Alvarez offering well over the left field fence for a two-run homer. The game-winning belt for Cron was his NL-leading 10th homer of the season.
Although the damage had been done, after Cron’s homer run, Colorado added singles by Ryan McMahon and Randal Grichuk for what turned to be a five-hit inning for the home team.
Rockies closer Daniel Bard, who had absorbed back-to-back ninth-inning losses on Sunday (against Kansas City) and Monday (against San Francisco) during the team’s current season-long 10-day, nine-game homestand, bounced back to retire San Francisco in order in the ninth to secure the victory and earn his 10th save of the year.
A big win?
In his postgame comments to media, Black hopes the “worm has turned” against the Giants, who had knocked off the Rox in the teams’ previous five meetings this season..
“It was a good win, no doubt about it,” he said. “They have had our number. Hopefully, the worm has turned and we can continue on when we play them again to keep it going.”
Cron, whose 15 multi-hit games led MLB entering the day, had just one base hit on Wednesday, but it was the difference-maker. Of his 46 hits in 2022, 20 have gone for extra bases.
“When he’s getting hits, that tells me that a homer’s coming,” Black said. “He got three hits yesterday (Tuesday). He got some hits against the Royals in that series.”
The series with Kansas City preceded Colorado’s three-game set with the Giants.
“They (opposing pitchers) have been pitching him tough,” Black added about Cron. “All teams recently have been pitching him tough. That was a big swing, obviously. Obviously, a huge swing for us.”
Perhaps somewhat lost in Colorado’s eighth-inning turnaround was Blackmon’s bunt — scored as a sacrifice — that moved Joe into scoring position.
“Charlie did that on his own,” Black said of the veteran’s decision to bunt in that situation.
“I believe Charlie was trying to bunt for a hit. He has been practicing that. He and Mac (McMahon) and Sam (Hilliard) to beat the shift. Here’s a veteran player that was trying to get the winning run on base after Connor’s leadoff single … but it worked.”
Blackmon also played a key role in Colorado jumping to a 2-0 lead in the team’s first at bat.
He smacked a leadoff homer to right, his sixth this season. The round-tripper was the 37th leadoff home run of his career, the most in franchise history, and ties him with Ichiro Suzuki for the ninth-most leadoff homers in Major League history and the third-most in NL annals.
The Rox added a second run when, with two our, McMahon singled to center before scoring on Brendan Rodgers’ double over the head of Giants right fielder Mike Yastrzemski.
Kyle Freeland started on the mound for Colorado and turned in his third quality start of the month by allowing seven hits and three earned run in six innings. He fanned a season-best eight and issued two walks.
Robert Stephenson and Tyler Kinley then succeeded Freeland on the hill with each tossing an inning of scoreless relief.
With his scoreless inning out of the bullpen on Wednesday, Kinley has lowered his earned run average to 0.63, surrendering just one earned run in 14.2 innings.
The right-hander has now posted scoreless outings in 15 of his 16 appearances in 2022 and has not been scored on this month. His ERA is the lowest for a Rox reliever through the first 15 outings of a season since Adam Ottavino notched an 0.56 ERA in 2018.
Here are three things we learned about the Colorado Rockies from the San Francisco Giants series
1. Clean game, good win: Colorado did not commit a fielding error or have a fielding miscue in its win Wednesday against San Francisco, a point not missed by Black in his postgame comments.
“I like the fact that we played a good, clean game,” the manager said. “When we play a good, clean game, we win. If you look back at our wins, that’s usually how it is drawn up.”
2. B-Rod continues to improve at the plate: With his first-inning RBI double Wednesday, Rodgers is now batting .362 (21-for-58) with eight extra base hits — six doubles, two home runs — with 16 runs batted in during 14 May contests for the second baseman. By contrast, in April, Rodgers hit at an .078 clip going 4-for-51 at the plate.
3. Serven impresses in debut: Serven, after the Rox selected his contract from Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, made his Major League debut and first start on Wednesday with left-hander Freeland on the mound.
“Kyle knows what he wants; he has a plan,” said Serven, whose family members were in the stands for the game and came up with a foul ball off his bat during the contest. “We discussed what he (Freeland) would want to do from the get-go. There were times where he shook because this was my first time catching him in this setting. But, for the most part, we were on the same page. We mixed in different pitches in different counts for strikes, (and went) out of the zone when we needed to.”
After a day off from action Thursday, Colorado continues its homestand on Friday when the New York Mets visit Coors Field for the first of a three-game weekend series. German Marquez (1-3, 6.16 ERA) is slated to start for the Rockies in the 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time) start.