DENVER -- In case you hadn't noticed, there's a recurring script to these Padres-Rockies games at Coors Field this season.
The Rockies jump out to a seemingly insurmountable lead. The Padres mount a ferocious comeback. Then, the game tilts in one of two directions.
On Saturday night -- with Eric Hosmer and Andy Green long since banished to the visitors' clubhouse after successive fifth-inning ejections -- the game tilted toward the Rockies, who held on for a wild 11-10 victory.
“We fought,” said third baseman Manny Machado, whose 30th homer cut the deficit to one in the ninth. “We came up a run short. In a ballpark like this, with the team we have, we're never going to stop fighting.”
Nor should they. Saturday marked the seventh straight contest these teams have staged at Coors Field in which they’ve combined for at least 15 runs. They’re averaging more than 21 runs in those games. In their record-setting four-game series here in June, the Padres came back from deficits of five and six runs. On Saturday, they nearly made it seven.
“Guys fought crazy hard,” Green said. “We almost had another Coors Field miracle.”
At this point -- with these two teams playing at this park -- a mundane 4-2 final would qualify as extraordinary. Saturday’s game was merely par for the course.
Eric Lauer was again roughed up at Coors Field, allowing six runs (four earned) over 2 1/3 innings. His 18.82 ERA here is the highest among all pitchers with at least as many as Lauer’s four starts.
After their six-run third inning, the Rockies led by seven. The Padres stormed back with a three-run fifth and a five-run eighth.
“Every time you come in here, you know something's going to happen,” Machado said. “You just try to make the most of it. … Knowing that we're playing here, no matter how far behind you are or how far ahead you are, you can get back.”
Machado’s opposite-field blast put the Padres on the brink of another mind-bending comeback. They did not get any closer.
Trailing by five in the fifth, Hosmer attempted to check his swing on a Peter Lambert curveball in the dirt. He was so certain he had checked that he pointed toward third base ump Carlos Torres for clarification. Torres raised his right fist: strike two.
Hosmer stepped out of the box in utter disbelief. Two pitches later, he bounced an RBI grounder toward second -- an unsatisfying result, with the Padres trailing by four. As he trotted toward the visitors' dugout, Hosmer barked toward Torres.
“That’s terrible,” replays showed Hosmer saying. Then he said it again.
That was enough to earn Hosmer his third career ejection. Afterward, the Padres’ first baseman seemed baffled by the decision.
“It was a quick hook, that's for sure,” Hosmer said. “We're competing at high levels here. If you can't take someone saying, ‘That's terrible,’ then I don't think you're built for this.”
Green emerged from the dugout to dispute Hosmer’s ejection, and he, too, was promptly tossed.
“I used the word ‘terrible’ a few more times,” he quipped.
Afterward, Green expressed his frustration with Torres’ hook.
“There has to be some discernment in those moments,” Green said. “If we're going to eject everybody that says the word 'terrible' on the baseball field, we won't finish the baseball game. ... It is terrible, at the end of the day, when you're ejected for [saying] 'terrible.' That's frustrating.
“That was where my objection was. He's 60 feet away running to the dugout. All you've got to do is turn the other direction, and it's over. You appreciate the umpires who do that.”
Green and Hosmer both felt especially aggrieved that the ejection came at Coors Field. Even if the game seemed out of reach on paper, they both knew -- from experience -- that it wasn’t.
“We don't care what the scoreboard says here,” Green said. “You still feel like you've got a very good chance to win a baseball game. We've proven that here. How does that game play out different if our cleanup hitter is in the middle of the lineup? … It's a different baseball game.”
After four dreadful starts at Coors Field, it’s fair to wonder when, exactly, Lauer will get to make another.
“He has to step on the mound and execute,” Green said. “He's found it very difficult to do that here. For the future, we'll be aware of this going into next season, and we'll figure out what we have to do best to put our team in a position to succeed.”
Of course, Lauer’s rotation spot is far from secure. The Padres expect a dozen or so candidates next spring, and Lauer should enter camp squarely on the rotation bubble.
“He'll be competing for a rotation spot next year,” Green said. “There are going to be a lot of guys in that mix, and there are very few guys that have cemented themselves into that spot going into next season. Eric's a guy we believe in. He's been in the rotation constantly for the last two years, and he's done some really good things. ... I know nobody takes it harder than he does.”
Usually loquacious, Lauer seemed at a loss for words to sum up his struggles Saturday.
“Tonight was the best I've felt here,” he said. “I thought I had great stuff. … But I was not making pitches in my counts. There were a lot of balls, 0-2, 1-2, right down the middle. That's just not going to cut it.”