D-backs catcher John Ryan Murphy hit a hard grounder to the heel of Arenado's glove, and the ball bounced straight up. Arenado grabbed it at eye level with his bare hand and fired it to home plate, where Chris Iannetta was waiting to collide with Steven Souza Jr. sliding home. Souza was out, and Arenado's key play spurred the Rockies to a 5-1 win over the D-backs Thursday and a series win over a divisional opponent.
"There was one out," Arenado said. "I had a feeling [Souza] was going to go home. They were going on contact. So my plan was, if it's hit to me, I'm going to try to go home. So I tried to plan it out. Obviously, I didn't plan that out -- top-spinner at me and popping up into the air. But I try to be prepared every time."
It was the Rockies' first series win against the D-backs this season and tightened the NL West race.
The win also might be part of a Rockies turnaround against the D-backs, who, after winning the series opener on Tuesday, had won nine consecutive games at Coors Field.The Rockies have won the last three out of four series at home and have a chance to win another this weekend against the Mariners.
"It's a tight race, so any game against [Arizona] is going to be big," said Trevor Story, who hit his 18th home run of the season -- a seventh-inning solo shot off Randall Delgado for a 4-1 lead.
After scoring a slew of runs on Wednesday night, the Rockies were stifled by left-hander Robbie Ray on Thursday. That is, until the sixth inning, when Silvino Bracho replaced Ray with two runners on. Gerardo Parra and Raimel Tapia both knocked pinch-hit, RBI singles to give the Rockies the 2-1 lead, and DJ LeMahieu's sacrifice fly off Andrew Chafin made it 3-1.
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland pitched solidly for 5 2/3 innings, and bullpen pitchers threw effectively after Freeland exited, with Adam Ottavino surrendering the only hit in that time. Scott Oberg and Chris Rusin put together zeros across the board, and Wade Davis closed things out.
"The starter goes out there and goes as long as he can, and in most cases, in most games these days, you're going to see three or four relievers," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "And if those guys do their job, we've got a great chance to win. And if one guy falters, it might be a loss."
The Rockies have had a tough time of stringing together relievers who put together good outings, but Thursday -- against a strong D-backs lineup -- was a good sign for the bullpen.
Freeland gave up a first-inning run but allowed only three hits after the first inning. He pitched his way out of a jam in the fourth inning, when Souza led with a triple. Freeland struck out Ketel Marte, Murphy and Ray to leave Souza stranded.
"For me, it was a grind," Freeland said. "You gotta recognize what's working and what's not working, go with your strengths on those things and do what you can to keep them as close as possible and give your team a chance to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The D-backs' A.J. Pollock nearly had a game-breaking hit with two out in the fifth, but a strong wind toward home plate in the middle innings and the glove of left fielder Noel Cuevas helped Freeland.
Nick Ahmed had doubled with one out. Paul Goldschmidt lined to second baseman LeMahieu.
Pollock crushed a changeup to left-center and, well …
"Once I saw the swing, heard the crack of the bat, I thought it was gone," Freeland said. "I turn around, let out a couple of words, then look out in left field, and Cuevas is making the catch."
As the Coors Field crowd erupted, Freeland bent, hands on knees, feeling saved from at least one run.
UP NEXT Righty Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.34 ERA) carries good and bad memories into his start against the Mariners in Friday's 6:40 p.m. MT opener of three games at Coors Field. Senzatela's last home start was his first start of the season, and he threw seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts while beating the Giants on July 3. But on Sunday, he faced the Mariners in Seattle and gave up six runs on five hits in six innings. Senzatela struggled early and late, but in the middle innings, he pitched smoothly. The Mariners will counter with Christian Bergman, who tossed seven scoreless innings on May 16 in his only Major League appearance in 2018.