DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado figured before Wednesday afternoon’s game at Coors Field that a spiteful pitch was heading his way. By the time he came up in the third inning of a 10-1 loss to the Cubs, he knew.
And Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels fulfilled expectations by drilling Arenado with a 90.5-mph fastball. Arenado left after the fourth with a left forearm contusion -- he hopes to return as early as Thursday against the Padres.
Even more, the Arenado hit-by-pitch -- and all that led to it -- was part of a day when four players were hit during a brisk but contentious game that lasted two hours and 57 minutes. The teams won’t meet again in ’19, unless it’s in the postseason.
• Box score
“If we play them again, it would be a pretty spicy series,” Arenado said.
The Rockies ended the Cubs’ 2018 season with a 2-1, 13-inning victory in the National League Wild Card Game. More pertinent now, the Cubs and Rockies split six games in nine days. The last two games revved up the intensity of the rivalry between the two teams.
“I don’t really have to explain what’s going on here,” Arenado said. “You guys all saw the games in Chicago. You saw them here. It’s just baseball. I just thought [the pitch] was a little high.
“If you were here for the series, you saw what was going on. I don’t like to talk about what goes on on the field. It’s just on the field.”
In Tuesday’s 10-3 Rockies victory over the Cubs, Colorado rookie Peter Lambert, in his second career start, twice hit the Cubs’ Kris Bryant -- once with a fastball and once with a changeup. Last Wednesday, the Rockies’ German Márquez hit Bryant and Willson Contreras in the same inning at Wrigley. Also, Bryant was hit in the helmet by Marquez on April 22, 2018, and the Cubs’ third baseman missed time because his sunglasses created a laceration above his eye.
Arenado and Bryant are 1-2 at third base in the National League, according to the first Google 2019 All-Star Ballot update, released Tuesday. OK, the fireworks aren’t dirty campaign tricks. But the back-and-forth did speak to the matching status of the players.
“I had a feeling it was going to be me,” Arenado said. “It’s part of it.”
Hamels struck out nine Rockies over seven scoreless innings of pinpoint command to become the fourth opposing pitcher to throw at least seven scoreless with nine or more K’s at Coors. When informed that the Rockies believed there was a mission to avenge Bryant, Hamels said, “Not that I know of.”
But in the top of the third, Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela sent Javier Baez scurrying with a high fastball. Arenado, batting third in the bottom of the inning, stepped to the plate with first base open after David Dahl’s double.
Arenado knew it was on, as the cool kids say.
After being hit, Arenado, through his pain, reacted with angry words, first toward Hamels, then toward the Cubs’ dugout.
“Cole’s a good pitcher. … His reaction? I don’t know,” Arenado said. “He knows what he’s doing. I know what I’m doing.”
Manager Bud Black said, “It didn’t look right to me.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon took the opportunity to explain his team's protocol.
“Right now, we lead the league in getting hit by pitches [tied with the Mets at 36], and our guys go to first,” Maddon said.
Guys had plenty of practice at dealing with being buzzed and hit -- in a game that officially will be remembered as the end of the Rockies’ second-longest home win streak within a single season, 10 games.
• Hamels had Charlie Blackmon hitting the dirt on a high fastball before striking him out in the fifth.
• Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw hit Hamels -- who earlier had his first two hits of the season and two RBIs -- on the right foot with a 2-1 pitch with two outs in the top of the seventh and the Cubs up, 8-0. On intent, Shaw said, “I don’t do that kind of stuff.” He said he was “yanking” his pitches, but went on to complete a scoreless frame. Asked if Shaw could have been expressing extreme esprit de corps, Arenado said, “He’s a good teammate, regardless.”
• With two down in the top of the eighth, Rockies rookie lefty Phillip Diehl hit the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo on his right hip. Arenado said, “We’re not asking some second-appearance young kid to go throw at Rizzo.”
The next hitter, Baez, gained a measure of revenge with a two-run homer to left field to put the Cubs in double figures. Baez stood and watched it fly. According to Statcast, It took him 9.85 seconds to reach first base, and he enjoyed it for every tick of his 27.52-second home-to-home saunter.
“I would say he watched that one a little extra, which is nice,” Rizzo said. “When you think something is intentional and you get them back on that, it feels a little bit better. It's a big homer for us right there.”
• Cubs righty Brad Brach hit Tony Wolters with one out in the bottom of the ninth. The incident came after plate umpire Roberto Ortiz issued two warnings. Wolters, whose single in last year’s Wild Card Game gave the Rockies elation and sent the Cubs home, for what it’s worth, said he was “definitely surprised” there was no ejection for his being hit.
But there was plenty of leftover spice.
Will it be a tasty October?
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.