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Rockies hit 4 homers, but give up 7 in LA

@harding_at_mlb
September 3, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Say someone picked right now to become a Rockies fan. From Aug. 19 through Monday night’s 16-9 loss at Dodger Stadium, these are the numbers of the top four hitters in the Rockies’ lineup: • Trevor Story: 20-for-59 (.339), two doubles, two home runs, six RBIs. That

LOS ANGELES -- Say someone picked right now to become a Rockies fan. From Aug. 19 through Monday night’s 16-9 loss at Dodger Stadium, these are the numbers of the top four hitters in the Rockies’ lineup:

Trevor Story: 20-for-59 (.339), two doubles, two home runs, six RBIs. That includes his 30th home run of the season Monday -- his second first-inning leadoff shot in six games since moving to No. 1 -- and an RBI single in the fifth.

Box score

Charlie Blackmon: 16-for-56 (.286), six doubles, one home run, six RBIs – including Monday’s three doubles and a sacrifice fly that Dodgers right fielder Joc Pederson pulled out of the stands while crashing into the short wall and leaving with an abdominal contusion.

Nolan Arenado: 21-for-54 (.389), three doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs. He knocked his 36th homer of the season Monday, for two runs in the third.

Daniel Murphy: 14-for-44 (.318), seven doubles, one homer and seven RBIs after three doubles -- two of them driving in runs -- on Monday.

That sounds like a team making a playoff push, but not the way the Rockies are pitching.

Rookie Peter Lambert, 22, lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on eight hits, including Pederson’s first-inning leadoff shot. Yency Almonte came in behind and coughed up Pederson’s three-run homer and Chris Taylor’s fourth-inning leadoff shot.

And it didn’t stop. The Rockies would tie a club record by giving up seven homers, with Jesus Tinoco, Sam Howard and Jake McGee (back to back in the seventh) also serving them. The Rockies also yielded seven homers on July 2, 2002, at home against the Giants.

Veteran outfielder Ian Desmond cut short his Labor Day off-day by pitching a scoreless, one-hit eighth and homering in the ninth.

Desmond said pitches that Statcast called sliders were fastballs that he manipulated.

“I told [Black], ‘Give those guys a break. See if I can go out there and get a couple outs,’” Desmond said. “It was pretty fun … and followed it with a homer.”

And while the veterans at the top of the starting lineup kept producing, a lower part that included one regular (catcher Tony Wolters) produced no hits.

Now you get the idea why the Rockies lost to the soon-to-be, seven-time defending National League West champion Dodgers and have dropped seven straight, 11 of 12 and 13 of 15 to fall to 21 games under .500 (59-80). Colorado, which expected to contend against the Dodgers, owns the NL’s second-worst record.

According to Stats LLC, the 4-hour, 6-minute game marked the first in Major League history where teams combined for 11 home runs and 11 doubles.

Jon Gray (11-8, 3.84 ERA) was lost for the remainder of the season in mid-August with a stress fracture in his left foot. And its unclear whether German Marquez (12-5, 4.76) will return from the right arm inflammation that landed him on the injured list shortly after Gray went down. All five starters from the Opening Day rotation are on the IL.

In the face of that, the Rockies are using either depth starters or prospects like Lambert (2-6), who looked good for two starts in his debut season but has lasted fewer than five innings in four of his last six starts and has a 7.19 ERA.

While manager Bud Black likes Lambert’s makeup and calls him “a tough kid,” he has to assess whether continued regular starts are prudent. Off-days on Thursday and Monday could give the Rockies wiggle room.

“There is that point,” Black said. “Whether that point is approaching, you’re not sure. That’s a tough one to answer, but my conversations with Peter about what’s going on are productive. And we’ll see.”

Lambert said, “It’s been difficult, but that’s baseball. It’s always going to be a grind. You just keep grinding through it. I want to keep pitching.”

Even in the few close games the Rockies have played, Black is testing young relievers and leaving mop-up duty to veterans Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and McGee.

Lineups like Monday’s that are one-third rookie (Sam Hilliard, Garrett Hampson and Yonathan Daza) produce some good moments and a lot of inexperienced play. Some of the playing time is available because All-Star David Dahl (high right ankle sprain) and Raimel Tapia (who could return Tuesday or Wednesday from a left hand contusion) also are on the IL.

The players with lesser service time -- who haven’t either played enough or shown enough to be counted on as Major League regulars -- are being evaluated for future roles. Their quality and presence could relate to the team’s strategy this offseason. But looking to the future is helping create an ugly present.

“It’s something we talk about,” Black said. “We want to see our young guys, but again, we want to put out a lineup that we think that night gives us a chance to win. This is something as coaches we talk about, and we talk about it with players too.

“This is about the whole group. It’s not just about a handful of guys. That’s the thing that has to be kept in mind from our perspective.”

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.