Pillar's slam can't end Rockies' LA struggles

September 5th, 2020

For the second straight game, pumped new blood into the Rockies. On Friday night -- a little more than 24 hours after his seventh-inning triple provided a home victory -- Pillar belted a grand slam in the eighth to give Colorado a one-run lead at Dodger Stadium.

But now, Pillar, who was obtained Monday from the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline, has been introduced to Colorado's recent struggles in Los Angeles.

After Pillar’s slam off Caleb Ferguson gave the Rockies some joy at Chavez Ravine, AJ Pollock, Joc Pederson and Mookie Betts all homered in the bottom of the eighth to send them to a 10-6 loss. It was Colorado’s 17th loss in its past 18 games at Dodger Stadium and its 24th loss in its past 28 games against Los Angeles.

It’s hard to observe the pattern between the teams -- including three consecutive Dodgers walk-offs last year, another walk-off this year and Friday’s gut punch -- and not simply add to a running volume of Rockies frustrations at Los Angeles. But Colorado manager Bud Black is framing it in simple baseball terms.

“I can't repeat myself enough,” Black said. “Every game is a unique game. Tomorrow, we don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no doubt about that.

“We’ve got to execute pitches. We've got to have good at-bats. We've got to make plays in the field. And if we do that, we'll be in the game. And if we get some big hits and make some pitches, we’ll win the game.”

Carlos Estévez gave up Pollock’s go-ahead two-run homer and Pederson’s solo shot that immediately followed, then Jeff Hoffman allowed a Mookie Betts two-run home run. With the loss, the Rockies fell to 18-20, just outside of the two National League Wild Card spots for the expanded 16-team postseason.

It wasn't the best way to begin a key National League West road trip -- three games against the first-place Dodgers, followed by three against the second-place Padres.

But for a little while Friday night, Pillar made a glorious difference.

As did Sam Hilliard, who hit a fifth-inning solo home run. It was his sixth homer of the season (most among NL rookies) and his fifth in nine career games at Dodger Stadium. He believes the Rockies will enjoy Pillar’s winning plays more often than not.

“He's been awesome, a great veteran presence in the clubhouse,” Hilliard said of Pillar. “As another outfielder, I love talking to him and picking his brain. He’s come up clutch a couple of times."

Colorado's other Trade Deadline addition, right-hander Mychal Givens, who came from the Orioles, received his first tough Rockies experience against the Dodgers.

Givens gave up a go-ahead two-run homer to Will Smith in the seventh, which followed strong work from starter Antonio Senzatela (two runs allowed on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings). Givens bailed Senzatela out of a jam in the sixth to keep the game tied. However, the runs given up by Givens, Estévez and Hoffman increased the bullpen’s season ERA to 6.99, which ranks 30th in the Majors.

Raimel Tapia had his first career game-opening homer (also his first home run of the season), before Hilliard also went deep. With Tapia having solidified the leadoff spot and Hilliard earning playing time with his power, they look forward to chances to reverse the trend in Los Angeles.

Now, the newest Rockies have also had a taste of these vexing, ongoing struggles.