DENVER -- The D-backs suffered a loss before Thursday afternoon's finale with the Rockies even began, as starter Clay Buchholz was scratched due to tightness in his right elbow.That left the D-backs in a hole, no doubt, and after they lost to the Rockies, 10-3, at Coors Field, they fell
DENVER -- The D-backs suffered a loss before Thursday afternoon's finale with the Rockies even began, as starter Clay Buchholz was scratched due to tightness in his right elbow.
That left the D-backs in a hole, no doubt, and after they lost to the Rockies, 10-3, at Coors Field, they fell into an even deeper one in the standings, falling 4 1/2 games behind first-place Colorado with 15 games to play.
There is still time for them to catch the Rockies or the second-place Dodgers, as Arizona has three games remaining against each, but it will take an impressive finishing kick.
In addition to the six games against the Rockies and Dodgers, the D-backs also have three games remaining with the American League West-leading Astros and National League Central-leading Cubs before finishing the season with three in San Diego.
"It's a very difficult circumstance right now," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "But we still have a chance and crazier things have happened in this game, and I feel like these guys believe in that room that if we get on a run we can close the gap up. And I'm going to keep saying the same thing -- until we have that little 'e' next to our name, I feel like this team is going to give us everything they can."
Buchholz was 26 pitches into his 32-pitch pregame warmup when he experienced tightness in his elbow. The team has sent him back to Phoenix to have an MRI and be examined, but Lovullo said he passed the strength tests administered by the training staff, which is a good sign.
When Lovullo got the news, he quickly looked for long reliever Matt Koch -- who was making his way out to the bullpen with the rest of the relievers -- to let him know that he needed to get ready to start the game.
Koch went three innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks.
"So imagine what happened to him," Lovullo said. "He was probably just thinking, 'I've got a few innings to relax in case something happens,' and then it was, 'Ready, load and fire.' He did a good job."
The D-backs made a game of it in the top of the seventh, scoring a pair of runs to pull to within 5-3.
The Rockies, though, put the game away in the bottom of the seventh as they scored five runs, two of which came on a single by pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon.
The D-backs, who were in first place in the NL West when September started, have dropped nine of 12 since.
"It's obviously not the way we envisioned these last couple of weeks going," outfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. "We've got to get going. Time is running out. Like I said earlier, we're making it more difficult on ourselves, but it's not impossible. Crazier things have happened before in baseball. We've got a tough road ahead of us, but we're very capable."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A few more would've been nice: The D-backs got a one-out triple from Souza and back-to-back doubles from Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte to score a pair of runs in the seventh to chase Kyle Freeland from the game. With reliever Yency Almonte coming on in relief, the D-backs had a chance to tack on some more. However, pinch-hitters Ildemaro Vargas and Socrates Brito each fanned to end the threat and the Rockies put the game away with five runs in the bottom half off relievers Jake Diekman, Brad Boxberger and Andrew Chafin.
"We were actually in a pretty good spot at 5-3, and I thought with Diekman coming into the game we were going to close the gap and line some things up in the eighth and the ninth inning with a very potent lineup with a good bench," Lovullo said. "It just didn't work out the way we wanted it to."
The D-backs have allowed 10 or more runs five times this season, with four of those coming against the Rockies -- and two in the just-completed series.
HE SAID IT
"We've still got time to flip it around. I know we keep saying that and keep beating a dead horse, but it's true. There's just so much talent in here that we can roll off something spectacular. I have faith in us."
-- Souza, on Arizona's fading playoff hopes
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night with left-hander Robbie Ray (5-2, 4.18 ERA) on the mound. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his last four starts, and he will look to keep the D-backs from falling any further behind the first-place Rockies. The Astros will counter with left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.59 ERA), with first pitch set for 5:10 p.m. MST.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.