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Muncy homers again, but Rosscup hiccup stings

August 10, 2018

DENVER -- Zachary Rosscup retired three left-handed batters in the sixth and seventh innings Friday night, but the fourth lefty he faced, the Rockies' Ryan McMahon, launched a two-run homer to help lift Colorado to a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers.The left-handed Rosscup -- a former Rockies pitcher who was

DENVER -- Zachary Rosscup retired three left-handed batters in the sixth and seventh innings Friday night, but the fourth lefty he faced, the Rockies' Ryan McMahon, launched a two-run homer to help lift Colorado to a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers.
The left-handed Rosscup -- a former Rockies pitcher who was claimed off waivers in July -- had allowed just three home runs off left-handed batters in his career before Friday. Rosscup is known for lefty-on-lefty matchups. In his career, left-handers are hitting just .141 off him, and he's struck out 37 in 92 at bats.
Rosscup's slip blew the Dodgers lead in the second of a four-game series at Coors Field, but the club is still tied for first place in the National League West race after the D-backs lost to the Reds on Friday night.

The Dodgers bullpen is trying to figure out where each pitcher stands in Kenley Jansen's absence, as the closer went on the 10-day disabled list with an irregular heartbeat and may miss up to a month. The situation calls for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to put relievers in positions they might not have been in before or extending them, like Rosscup was stretched to pitch in the seventh inning instead of just getting the two outs in the sixth.
"Putting them in higher leverage spots and extending them," Roberts said. "Just trying to understand this ballpark and the ballpark where we're at right now, with the bullpen, you have to try to extend guys."
John Axford, in his second outing with the Dodgers after being acquired from the Blue Jays at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, entered for the bottom of the eighth and fared much better than his first outing, when he gave up six runs on three hits to the Astros. He surrendered a triple to Chris Iannetta when Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson miscommunicated in the outfield, but Axford induced a groundout in between two strikeouts to end the inning.

"We're all prepared for whatever they're going to throw at us out there," Axford said on the pressure the bullpen might face in Jansen's absence. "As far as our conversations have been going, we're prepared for anything."
That might include moving Friday's starter Kenta Maeda to the bullpen, but something Roberts said is on the table. Maeda said he and the coaching staff have not had that conversation, adding it would be hard to say what his opinion is on that move until they talk about it. The team would count on him for leverage innings, Roberts said.
Maeda didn't have his best stuff but pitched well enough to exit after 5 2/3 innings with a one-run lead. After facing six batters in the top of the first and giving up a two-run home run to DJ LeMahieu, Maeda's slider improved as the game continued, and he struck out three of the Rockies best hitters -- LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story -- on the pitch.

On his last strikeout of the night, Maeda threw six sliders to Iannetta and got Iannetta swinging on three of them.
"Especially in the first inning, I felt like I had to throw the ball down the middle," Maeda said through an interpreter. "Right before the second inning, I talked with [catcher Yasmani Grandal], and we decided that, 'Hey, we just have to keep pounding the zone and keep attacking the zone."

The Dodgers were quick to give Maeda the lead in the first, when Justin Turner doubled and Grandal drove him home off of Rockies starter Jon Gray. Player Page for Max Muncy drove in two runs with his second homer in as many nights off Gray in the fourth. But the Dodgers couldn't get past the Rockies bullpen -- after taking advantage of it in Thursday night's 8-5 win. 
Maeda faced traffic in all of his innings, but he was able to find his way out of almost all of them. In the second inning, he gave up a single to Iannetta, and Gray reached first base on an error by Muncy. After Charlie Blackmon reached first on a fielder's choice, there were two men on and two outs.
Maeda struck out LeMahieu on that pesky slider of his, just an inning after LeMahieu had homered. 
With a three-hit game and an RBI single, Bellinger extended his hitting streak to five games. Bellinger is batting .526 (10-for-19) over that streak with a home run and five RBIs.

"It's challenging here, and the game can turn so quickly. Tonight, we gave away outs, we extended their innings. I think in this ballpark, when you've got 27, and you give them outs, what happens in turn, pitch counts start to ramp up and things happen that probably shouldn't happen. So I just don't think tonight we played a clean game." -- Roberts on managing a game at Coors Field
Right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler (5-4, 3.63 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Dodgers against left-hander Kyle Freeland (10-7, 3.04 ERA) on Saturday night at 5:10 PT. Buehler earned the 3-2 win over the Astros on Sunday, allowing two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two on 91 pitches. Buehler hasn't fared well against Colorado in his career (5.71 ERA in six games and two starts), and on June 2, he allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings at Coors Field.

Anne Rogers is a reporter for based in Denver. Follow her on Twitter at @anne__rogers.