Getting base hits was not a problem for the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon, but getting timely hits proved to be the team’s undoing in the rubber game of a three-game series with the host Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Less than 24 hours after being held to just one hit by Twins pitching, Colorado erupted for 12 hits on Sunday but left 11 runners on board in falling 6-3 to Minnesota in the final contest of a six-game road trip.
The loss left the Colorado Rockies (31-42) with a 1-5 record on the road swing, which included being swept in a three-game set at Miami before venturing to Minnesota.
The Colorado Rockies were seeking its fourth road series win this year in the series finale against the American League Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins.
The setback against Minnesota (41-33) also denied the Rox their fourth road series win of the 2022 season after Colorado had captured the series opener, 1-0, on Friday night.
Every Rockie in the batting lineup, except for Elehuris Montero, collected at least one hit on Sunday with Connor Joe, C.J. Cron, Brian Serven and Garrett Hampson notching two hits apiece.
On the flip side, every Rockie in the batting lineup finished with not one, but at least two, baserunners stranded during their at bats as Colorado finished with an aggregate total of 30 runners left on board.
Of that total, one-half (15) were stranded by the top three hitters in the Rox lineup. Leadoff hitter Joe left four runners on board while Yonathan Daza, batting second, stranded a team-high six baserunners. Charlie Blackmon, hitting No. 3 in the order, left five runners on base.
Leaving runners on base has been a bugaboo for Colorado’s offense during the 2022 campaign.
The Rockies have now stranded 531 runners on base through 73 games. Entering action Sunday, the Rox stood in a tie for third in the Majors (and second in the National League) for most baserunners stranded.
The team’s total of 520 runners left on base prior to Sunday’s game was the sixth most in franchise history through 72 games and the most since leaving 521 runners on board by the 2013 squad through 72 contests.
Despite getting 12 hits while drawing two walks and a hit batsman, Colorado went only 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position Sunday leaving seven runners in scoring position with two outs.
In his post-game comments Sunday, Colorado Manager Bud Black addressed the team’s current struggles in driving in runners on base.
“We talk daily about approach, about plan, about the opposing pitcher,” Black said. “Right now, it’s difficult. But the worm will turn.
“Our clutch hitting with runners in scoring position, we got to do a little better than that,” the manager added. “It’s something we talk about all the time …. We got some guys, again lesser-service time players, trying to figure that out against Major League pitching.”
The dismal day at the plate with runners on base and in scoring position came even though Colorado entered action Sunday batting 269 with runners on base (seventh-best mark in the Majors) and had a .264 average with RISP (eighth-best mark in the Majors).
Despite being outhit 12-10, Minnesota capitalized on its opportunities Sunday with runners on base, going 3-for-7 with RISP while stranding just six runners including four in scoring position with two outs.
Colorado placed its leadoff hitter on base in five innings Sunday but was able to score in just one of those frames (the first inning).
The Rockies had runners on first and second bases with no outs in the second inning but failed to score. Trailing 5-3, the team loaded the bases in the sixth with no outs but once again came up empty handed.
A final scoring threat in the eighth inning, when the Rox again had a pair of runners on base with no outs, ended with Daza grounding into the team’s 31st double play of the season with runners in scoring position.
Entering Sunday, the team’s total of 30 GIDP with runners in scoring position topped the Majors while Colorado’s 62 GIDPs were second-most in the Majors.
Cron’s RBI double drove in Joe to give the Rox a 1-0 lead in the team’s first at bat.
After Minnesota tallied five unanswered runs against Rockies starting pitcher Ryan Feltner (1-3), Blackmon’s 12th homer run of the year—a solo shot in the third inning—made it a 5-2 contest.
The Rockies crept to within 5-3 an inning later as Daza’s two-out double plated Joe, who had singled and stole second base—just the team’s 14th stolen base of the year (fewest in the Majors).
Feltner, making his seventh Major League start of 2022 and initial career inter-league start, allowed eight hits and five runs (all earned) in four innings.
“I try to always make it as far as I can in games,” he said following his 80-pitch outing and third start this season of less than five innings. “That was one positive from today, but way more negatives that I can learn from.”
“It’s a chess match and I am not making a lot of the right moves right now,” Feltner added. “But I am seeing what’s going on and definitely starting to think through things a little differently.”
Austin Gomber and Robert Stephenson combined to permit just two hits and one earned run in four innings in relief of Feltner.
Colorado now returns home to being a stretch of 17 consecutive games against National League West opponents, beginning Monday with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to open a seven-day, six-game homestand that also features three games with Arizona.
The series against the Dodgers will be Colorado’s first with Los Angeles since capturing two of three games agains the Dodgers April 8-10 at Coors Field on Opening Weekend. The series victory was the Rockies’ first at home against Los Angeles since winning three of four from the Dodgers in August 2018.
Chad Kuhl (4-5, 3.95 ERA) is slated to get the start on the mound Monday for Colorado while former Rockie Tyler Anderson (8-0, 3.00) is scheduled to start for the Dodgers. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time).