Axford suffers first blown save with Rockies
DENVER -- June 24 is a date John Axford probably won't mind forgetting.
For the second straight season, that day generated a blown save for Axford, who yielded three runs in just two- thirds of an inning in the Rockies' stunning 8-7 loss to Arizona on Wednesday night at Coors Field.
It was his first blown save since -- that's right -- June 24, 2014, when Axford couldn't deliver against the D- backs while pitching for Cleveland.
"I've had a lot of good things happen for me personally this year -- a lot of luck," said Axford, who was a perfect 12-for-12 in save opportunities this season entering Wednesday. "Whatever I've had to start the season obviously wasn't there tonight."
Wednesday's trouble started with an infield single from David Peralta and a walk to Paul Goldschmidt, which put two on and brought the go-ahead run to the plate with the Rockies leading, 7-5.
Axford said the free pass "isn't going to help obviously," but conceded his plan was to pitch around Goldschmidt -- who had already homered in the game and was the tying run.
"I'm just trying to not find his bat path with a guy on base," Axford said. "Threw those sliders. I thought one of the sliders was maybe a strike. The other one, maybe a little off the plate, but that's where I was trying to get it. I was trying to get it out there and hopefully, he was going to roll over or something."
That didn't happen, and Yasmany Tomas followed with an RBI single to left, trimming the Colorado lead to just a run. With nobody out still, Jake Lamb blooped a two-strike single that fell perfectly in between Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon in shallow center.
Axford then struck out Chris Owings on a 96-mph fastball with the bases loaded, but he couldn't put away Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who drew a 10-pitch walk to tie the game. Pinch-hitter Aaron Hill followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly, which signaled the end of Axford's night.
"[Saltalamacchia] battled off a lot of pitches, so that was a hard-fought battle," Axford said. "I had to take a few extra deep breaths to try and gather myself. That was a mentally-tough grind on that one -- and physically tough.
"That was definitely one of the hardest save opportunities I've ever gone out to try to get with the way things started off. That's for sure."
Until the ninth, though, the Rockies bullpen was nearly flawless. The combination of Christian Bergman, Justin Miller, Christian Friedrich, Scott Oberg and Tommy Kahnle tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings with just two hits surrendered to pick up starter David Hale.
"It was a good game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "all the way up to the end there."