Rockies fall short vs. Reds in another slugfest 

Poor pitching, sloppy defense contribute to loss after lengthy delay

July 14th, 2019

DENVER -- After a 3-hour, 8-minute delay for rain and lightning Saturday night, the Rockeis spent the next 3 hours, 53 minutes playing the type of baseball that isn’t sustainable for a team harboring postseason hopes.

The 17-9 loss to the Reds saw the Rockies give up 24 hits, including a club-record five triples, and three home runs. On its surface, it was just another high-scoring game at Coors Field.

Lefty , in his first Major League start since May 30 after a reset at Triple-A Albuquerque, gave up five runs and nine hits -- four triples -- in four innings.

And Freeland was far from the main culprit. With Reds starter Tanner Roark giving up 13 hits -- including home runs to , and -- and seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings -- Freeland didn’t even have to sweat a decision. When the game still mattered, , and gave up 10 runs and 11 hits, with a home run apiece, in just 2 1/3 combined innings. And absorbed two runs in the eighth.

The debacle came on the heels of Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Reds, when Jon Gray threw seven solid innings, and Diaz and closer Wade Davis were air-tight in relief.

Games like Saturday happen many places, and can happen more at Coors than other parks. But for the last month-plus they’re happening with stunning and concerning frequency. One team has scored at least nine runs in 11 of the Rockies’ last 15 home games, and the Rockies have dropped seven of those. They are sitting a game below .500, but hoping to go on a run that could justify pursuing a frontline starter or other needs at the July 31 Trade Deadline.

“We’ve got to make better pitches,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Last night we made pitches. Tonight we didn’t. There’s a consistency factor here that has to come into play.”

Consistency went out the window when lightning materialized after the National Anthem and steady rain followed. Freeland had to manage his own adrenaline for a return in his hometown -- he placed fourth in the Cy Young Award voting last year before the early-season struggles this year -- and then the delay.

“Three hours between getting hot and completely having to reset isn’t easy, but it also isn’t an excuse,” Freeland said.

With the seven-game, six-day homestand, the Rockies needed a Gray-like performance. But the best Freeland could offer was a mixed bag.

Through two, four of the first five hits off him were soft and he had a 4-2 lead. Then he gave up two triples in the third and two in the fourth.

Actually, Black acknowledged plays not made in the outfield on the triples. A weak throw from Raimel Tapia in left on the first of Nick Senzel’s two triples off Freeland, a slip from David Dahl in center on Phillip Ervin’s three-bagger (on a six-hit night), poor throws to cutoff men from Charlie Blackmon on triples by Jose Peraza and Ervin (Blackmon bobbled a carom on Senzel’s second triple) led to runners not hesitating before rushing for third. Blackmon’s rough night continued when he went to the fence, only to see Eugenio Suarez’s hit off Bettis bounce over his head for other triple.

“Overall, I liked his stuff, liked his delivery,” Black said of Freeland. “I think he got a little tired at the end. It’s a long day for him, getting here early in the afternoon warming up. He competed like he does -- competed great.”

The team will need to get better quickly, but Freeland legitimately planted the seeds for improvement.

“I felt I was doing well, living on the edges, throwing off the zone well,” he said. “But as the game went on, mostly after the first inning, my fastball and slider started getting to the top of the zone.”

The Rockies led through five after Story and Murphy -- had help from a fan, who let the ball clear the wall, but grabbed it before leaping left fielder Ervin could -- provided a 7-5 lead.

On a night the bullpen was asked to provide the length and quality that Freeland couldn’t, Bettis gave up Derek Dietrich’s game-turning three-run shot in the sixth, Diaz served a Yasiel Puig two-run homer in the sixth, and Jake McGee saw Curt Casali greet him in the seventh with a homer.

The only zero from the bullpen came from righty Carlos Estevez, who struck out two and gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings and said this leaky pitching is going to stop.

“It will -- we’ve got to keep attacking the strike zone, and eventually it’s going to happen,” Estevez said. “We just need to make good pitches, keep making them and when they hit them just tip your hat and give them credit.”

Change has to happen soon if the Rockies are to find their way back into good playoff standing.