DENVER -- The curse of Coors Field was back in force Friday night, though it had a different look than the long balls and extra-base hits the high-altitude park is known for. A tight game in the series opener between the Marlins and Rockies exploded in a bizarre bottom of the fourth, with the Rockies scoring six runs and driving starter Wei-Yin Chen to an early exit on their way to an 11-3 win over Miami.
Double-digit score tallies aren't unusual at Coors Field, but the Rockies departed from standard operating procedure as they seized the lead and sealed the Marlins' fate in the fourth Friday night. There was one hard hit ball in the inning, and only two that would typically leave the infield. Though Chen yielded seven earned runs in four innings, he was better than his line would indicate.
"We didn't give him a whole lot of help," manager Don Mattingly said of Chen. "Keep guys in the right spots, throw to the right bases, things like that. But the third time through [the lineup], seems like [Chen] has trouble getting a swing-and-miss. As you start getting around the third time, it's like a lot of foul balls. Blackmon at-bat, foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. You put the ball in play here, you got a shot."
The fourth frame was Exhibit A for the idea of putting the ball in play. The inning began with the score tied 1-1. Ian Desmond singled to center to lead off, and after Tom Murphy struck out, Carlos Gonzalez beat the shift with weak contact off the end of his bat that went past third and into left for a double, with Desmond scoring after Starlin Castro dropped the throw back to the infield. Noel Cuevas drove an infield single to second, and pitcher Jon Gray scored Gonzalez on a sacrifice bunt fielder's choice to first baseman Justin Bour, whose throw home was not in time.
"I think I'm moving in the right direction, but there was some tough luck out there," Chen said. "There's some adjustments I need to make, but I couldn't make it on the field, so with some tough luck, the damage was done to the club. There's something I can do better. I don't know what to say about it. It's just a tough night."
As the inning continued, a wild pitch put runners on second and third for DJ LeMahieu, who lofted a sac fly to center to plate Cuevas. Charlie Blackmon kept the inning going with a run-scoring bloop single to left, setting up Nolan Arenado for the only hard-hit ball of the inning, a two-run homer that traveled 420 feet into the left-field seats -- his fourth consecutive game hitting a home run. Chen struck out Trevor Story to end the inning, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter after allowing seven runs, all earned, on 74 pitches in four innings.
"Ubaldo Jimenez once told me, if you pitch here your offspeed pitch will have a different angle or different movement," Chen said of the former Rockies ace who pitched with Chen for the Orioles. "I heard that, so I think I need to make some adjustment to it, but actually, it's kind of hard to make the adjustment on the field while you're pitching. Also, with the thin air out there, at the start of the game it was kind of hard for me to breathe out there in the thin air."
The Marlins couldn't muster much offense against Gray, who struck out 12 and walked none in seven innings of one-run ball. They scattered eight hits against the right-hander, but the only run Miami managed against Gray was a one-out solo shot to left in the third from Derek Dietrich. It was the first of three hits on the night for Dietrich, who was joined by J.T. Realmuto who had three hits in his first three trips to the plate.
"Obviously we didn't get a whole lot going," Mattingly said of the challenges Gray gave his lineup. "J.T. swung the bat really well. A couple of the guys swung the bat OK. We really got away from what we wanted to do tonight. A lot of chases. Actually, it was a disappointing game from the standpoint of our approach. It looked like it was out of whack tonight."
The Rockies piled on three more in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra hit for Gray with the bases loaded and knocked a bases-clearing double off the right-field wall.
The Marlins scored a pair in the eighth when Realmuto reached base for the fourth straight time on an error by LeMahieu. A walk, a fielder's choice, a ground out, and a wild pitch plated the late runs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Brian Anderson opened the night's offense with a one-out single to center in the first. Realmuto followed with a double to left to put runners on second and third for Gray, who has been inconsistent in recent starts. The threat was left dangling when Bour struck out and Castro flied to center, where Blackmon was barely able to reach over his head to snare the drive.
The hit extended Anderson's on-base streak to 19 games, the second-longest active streak in the National League. He is hitting .342 (26-for--76) over the stretch, with a .420 on-base percentage.
The Marlins have given up double-digit runs 10 times this season, and they are 0-10 in those games. The Rockies have scored double-digit runs seven times and are 5-2 when scoring 10 or more.
The Marlins have allowed six or more runs in an inning six times this season, and the Rockies have scored a season-high six runs in an inning three times in the last eight games.
HE SAID IT
"In my life, I never pitched in such a high place. We don't have a ballpark like this in Taiwan, or anywhere else. In the first two innings it was kind of hard. I kind of adjusted to it after the first two, but unfortunately in the fourth inning when things went bad, I couldn't control the damage, so all the bad things happened for us." -- Chen, on his trouble breathing at Coors Field
Righty Trevor Richards (1-4, 5.45 ERA) takes the hill for Saturday's middle game of the three-game set with the Rockies. Richards has never faced the Rockies, and is 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA in three starts since his second call-up of the season June 7. He'll face Rockies southpaw Tyler Anderson (4-2, 4.52) at 3:10 p.m. ET.