Rockies come home looking to redefine season

After 1-5 road trip, team starts 17-game stretch vs. division rivals

June 26th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- With his 411-foot solo homer in the third inning,  gave the Rockies a moment worth folding neatly and packing for the flight home on Sunday afternoon.

Much of the rest of the 6-3 loss to the Twins is better left at Target Field, like how the Rockies continued their penchant for leaving runners on base. No use bringing any of that home with them. Monday starts a series with the Dodgers and a stretch of 17 games against the National League West, with the team desperate to redefine the season.

Oh, and they can leave the anger behind.

Connor Joe stamping toward the dugout after becoming the third straight hitter not to capitalize with two on and nobody out in the second; Yonathan Daza spiking his bat and causing a divot after a lineout as the Rockies did nothing with bases loaded and no outs in the sixth; Austin Gomber slamming his glove and ripping at his towel in the dugout after hanging a slider to Max Kepler to give up an insurance run in the seventh … dump it all in the mighty Mississippi River that separates the Twin Cities and forget it.

They’ll get back home and face their NL West rivals, opponents who at least lately have yielded their few stretches of decent baseball -- with series wins over the Giants away and Padres at home, and a split with the Padres on the road in the last three weeks. If he checks out physically, -- the free agent brought in to boost the offense -- will return Monday from a back injury. And the Rockies need to shake the cumulative failures of a 1-5 road trip, and realize they can’t undo everything at once.

“I don’t really look at big chunks like that,” Blackmon said. “I didn’t know it was 17 games individually. I’m not going to treat it any differently. Just try to win all the games.”

On Sunday, C.J. Cron’s two-out RBI double in the first and Daza’s two-out RBI double in the fourth were Colorado’s only hits with runners in scoring position, as the Rockies dropped yet another winnable game. They were 5-for-48 with runners in scoring position in the final five games of the trip.

“We talk daily about approach, about plan, about the opposing pitcher,” manager Bud Black said. “Right now it’s difficult, but the worm will turn.”

Hitting home runs would ease the pressure.

The Rockies hit just three homers on the trip, after swatting eight in a three-game home sweep of the Padres to end their last homestand. But Coors hasn’t exactly been a panacea for power problems this season. From May 13 to June 16, the Rockies went 5-14 at home. In the 14 losses, they had just 10 total homers.

“When the power goes, it seems like the offense goes as well,” said Cron, who went 2-for-4 on Sunday. “I don’t know what it’s going to take, but it’s getting back that power stroke -- at home and on the road.”

Bryant has not had a homer in the 17 games he has played, with the back issue no doubt involved. If he is healthy, Bryant can change the offense.

But teams don’t drop to 11 below .500 on poor clutch offense alone. Starter , without his best breaking pitches, gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings Sunday. The defense was clean Sunday, but has often not been this year.

“We just need to be a little more consistent,” said Blackmon, who drove in the only run in Friday’s 1-0 victory over the Twins, behind the pitching of Germán Márquez for 7 2/3 innings and closer Daniel Bard for 1 1/3. “It seems we play good for a bit, and then slip for a while.”

The Rockies couldn’t force action when they needed it during play, but their reactions were colorful. “Sometimes you do that and the team gets fire,” Daza said.

Gomber, replaced recently by Feltner in the rotation, reacted to being one out away from three clean innings after replacing Feltner on Sunday.

“It’s just frustrating for me, personally, to not be able to make that one pitch to have that one clean outing,” Gomber said.

To an extent, it’s all OK with the manager.

“I want guys if they’re feeling it at that moment, it’s fine -- as long as they regroup and focus,” Black said. “It’s part of competition.”