Relievers go wild in extra-inning loss vs. Cubs
Bullpen walks nine, gives up three runs without allowing a hit in 7th
DENVER -- The Rockies knew they'd be treated to some recognizable sights when they returned to Coors Field Tuesday. They just didn't realize the full, excruciating extent until Cubs rookie Javier Baez's first Major League hit -- a towering go-ahead solo shot to right field -- handed the Rockies a 6-5, 12-inning loss.
Just four days after a four-game series at Wrigley Field, the Rockies and Cubs did what they do best by producing their third extra-innings affair in five meetings this season.
Nolan Arenado, who hit the game-tying solo shot in the seventh to ultimately force extras, is personally tired of the Rockies' recent battles with the Cubs.
"These games are terrible," Arenado said. "There's no way around it, they're terrible ... We've just got to find a way to win and we didn't do it today."
Ryan Sweeney's 11th-inning, RBI bloop single off left-hander Boone Logan appeared to have put a fork in things before Charlie Culberson answered back with a neutralizing RBI single of his own.
Logan wouldn't be bailed out for long, though. One pitch into the 12th, Baez deposited a no-doubter into the Rockies' bullpen.
Baez had struck out three times through the first five at-bats of his Major League debut. But his sixth came against a pitcher whom he had faced in Triple-A while Logan was on a rehab assignment in Colorado Springs earlier this season, off a pitch he had never seen him throw.
"I've faced him before, and he threw me all curveballs," Baez said. "He has a good curveball. I wasn't sitting on the curveball, I was sitting on the fastball, and he threw it, first pitch."
Of course, the eerie sense of familiarity for the Rockies went deeper than that matchup and the free baseball.
Just like a bad dream they can't seem to shake, the Rockies saw yet another starting pitcher depart due to injury when left-hander Brett Anderson's back "locked up" in the fourth inning in the midst of a one-hitter.
"We're probably used to it at this point," manager Walt Weiss said. "We've lost a lot of pitchers this year due to injury and it looks like we'll go down that road again."
And in the seventh, the Rockies' bullpen continued its bad habits by coughing up the lead as the Cubs racked up three runs without registering a hit.
Right-hander Tommy Kahnle entered to protect a 3-1 lead and proceeded to walk the bases loaded before being pulled for right-hander Nick Masset with one out.
Masset walked the only batter he'd face to plate a run, causing Weiss to counter a pinch-hitting Chris Coghlan with left-hander Rex Brothers.
But the lefty-on-lefty move wouldn't put an end to the Cubs' walk parade as Brothers issued a free pass to Coghlan to tie the game at 3. A pinch-hitting Chris Valaika then sent Brothers' very next offering into left field for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
With the Rockies also unable to score in the previous inning after the first two batters reached, Weiss targeted those series of events as when the tides turned.
"I felt like that game was lost in the sixth and seventh," Weiss said. "In the sixth inning, we had an opportunity to add to our lead and didn't do it, and then obviously the seventh inning got sideways on us."
Right-hander Adam Ottavino got through the 10th easily enough before the Rockies asked for another. That's when things got sticky.
After Starlin Castro's leadoff double, Ottavino loaded the bases with back-to-back walks, leaving Weiss no choice but to call upon his last reliever, Logan.
"Otto did a good job," Weiss said. "He had to go a little longer than we'd like him to, but were in a tough spot at that point. A couple guys left in the bullpen,that was it."
Two pitches into Logan's first frame, Sweeney sent a fastball into the opposite field just over DJ LeMahieu's extended glove to give the Cubs their 5-4 advantage.
Back-to-back singles from Jason Pridie and Charlie Blackmon then set up Culberson's aforementioned heroics before Justin Morneau struck out with a runner on third.
After Anderson was escorted off by a trainer, left-hander Franklin Morales was called upon to replace him on the same day he was moved from the rotation back to the bullpen in anticipation of Jordan Lyles' return.
Morales gave the Rockies all he could for three innings, holding the Cubs to just one hit outside of Welington Castillo's solo shot before his bullpen 'mates blew the Rockies' 3-1 lead.
"Franky came in a tough spot and did a real nice job," Weiss said. "But the seventh inning obviously was rough for everybody."