Rockies left frustrated, denied again by LA

Lambert, Davis stung by homers as Dodgers extend hold over Rox

June 28th, 2019

DENVER -- The Rockies’ took his stance and, from the on-deck circle, timed his rock-and-step with Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. There was a chance at bizarre history. Had reached, Blackmon could have tied the game and accomplished a cycle with one home run swat.

Instead, as Hampson struck out to end the Rockies’ 12-8 loss -- a 12th straight defeat at the Dodgers’ hands -- Blackmon had to bottle Thursday’s hope for another day.

“Baseball is really hard to start with, and I know that,” Blackmon said. “I’ve been good. I’ve been bad. I’ve been everywhere in between. The important thing is you’ve got to learn how to deal with adversity.

“Most of our guys are really professional. Whether things are going good or bad, they get their work in. They’re prepared to play. They’re ready to do the best they can to help us win a game every day. We do a good job of turning the page. Tomorrow you’ll see guys come in and there will be a fresh start. It’s almost like we have a new season every day.”

On a night when the game-time temperature was 93 degrees, Blackmon was trying to keep a cool head at a strange time for his club.

The three straight losses on walk-off homers last week at Dodger Stadium, followed by Thursday -- when gave up a soft RBI single to Chris Taylor and a three-run pinch-hit homer to Enrique Hernandez -- only tells part of the weirdness.

For Blackmon, it’s important to keep that frustration small. Blackmon’s nine years in a Colorado uniform has included the Dodgers’ six-season run of National League West titles -- and Los Angeles is now 13 games ahead of the second-place Rockies, who reached the halfway point at 42-39.

“We’ll have to beat the Dodgers in order to get there,” Blackmon said. “That’s a little bit important. But at the same time, until we get to the playoffs, it doesn’t matter so much what the head-to-head matchup is.”

Yes, there is frustration against the Dodgers. But also the run totals suggest that the park is eating its main inhabitant.

The winning team has reached double figures in six of the past seven games at Coors, and the losing team has scored eight or more in the last four. The 20 runs Thursday accounted for merely the fourth-highest total in those seven. The Rockies have lost four of those seven.

And Blackmon’s best efforts haven’t necessarily resulted in victory. Thursday saw him double in the first, single in the fourth and drive in two runs on a triple in the sixth -- for his club-record fifth straight game of three or more hits at Coors. Three of those have been Rockies losses.

At the end of the last homestand, when Blackmon broke a 58-year-old record for hits in a four-game series (15) and fell a game short of a 94-year-old record for consecutive four-hit games (he had three), he discussed fatigue and frustration.

Thursday, Blackmon drew on the resolve gained from two straight postseason appearances. At this stage last year, the Rockies were 39-42; they went to bed Thursday one game behind both NL Wild Card leaders.

“We’ve set the bar really, really high and it seems like bad things have happened and it seems really tough,” said Blackmon, whose teammate, , tied his career best with four hits. “We could have won a handful of those games. It seems like we’ve played so terrible.

“We’ve played .500.”

Thursday illustrated two pitching areas where the Rockies need to perform better, especially at home:

• Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, who struck out 16 Rockies in a win at Dodger Stadium last Friday, gave up 13 hits and seven runs in 5 2/3 innings. But Rockies rookie coughed up five runs on four homers. Cody Bellinger’s second-inning homer would have landed short had it not bounced off the glove of David Dahl and over the wall. Max Muncy’s homer followed, and Alex Verdugo and Justin Turner went back-to-back in the fifth. Of the homers, only Muncy’s was beyond 31 percent hit probability, per Statcast.

“When I got hurt tonight, I was throwing the ball thigh high instead of down at the knees -- maybe that’s the difference between a home run and a ground ball,” said Lambert, who has a 3.00 ERA in two road starts but a 9.95 mark in three starts at Coors.

Rockies starters had gone 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA and five quality starts during a just-completed 5-4 road trip. Lambert’s performance was reminiscent of the last homestand, when the Rockies went 4-3 but starters had an 8.05 ERA.

Manager Bud Black, who promised that “the worm will turn” when it comes to the Dodgers, said the difference is location, which isn’t the same as venue.

“We’re seeing this at an alarming rate, across baseball -- too many pitches up,” said Black, whose club gave up six homers (Muncy went deep off Jairo Diaz in the seventh), and hit one -- Ryan McMahon, a 479-foot homer off Yimi Garcia to lead off the bottom of the seventh.

• While Davis was hurt by Hernandez’s homer, the real culprit was a one-out walk to Muncy.

“Something I keep telling myself is to keep attacking the strike zone, keep making pitches,” said Davis, who has a 6.00 ERA, two blown saves and one loss in his last three games at Coors -- but was 3-for-3 in saves during the road trip.