They continue this so-far, so-fraught National League West road trip with four games at Arizona starting Monday.
“It’s huge, just like coming in here was going to be big, but we didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Story, who moved past Matt Holliday and into 10th in Rockies history with 131 homers. “In a 60-game season, every game is big. We feel each loss, just like we feel each win -- especially in the division.”
After dropping all three at their Dodger Stadium house of horrors (16 of the last 17 lost) against a team that haunts them (23 of the last 27 down), how do the Rockies (13-15) regain their 11-3 early-season form -- not to mention justify additions at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline?
Keep believing in the principles
The Rockies seem to be disproving the adage that pitching and defense win games. There’s been some good defense, including a nice double play to end the second, featuring a sliding backhand and strong, rolling throw from Story and a strong relay throw from second baseman Brendan Rodgers. It was the Rockies’ 37th ground-ball double play of the season.
The pitching has generally been decent or, in the case of Kyle Freeland’s six innings Saturday night, good.
On Sunday, righty Antonio Senzatela was decent early. Corey Seager and Mookie Betts had solo shots in the first and third, respectively.
Then the Rockies proved the pitching-defense adage -- just not the way they wanted.
With two on and two out in the fourth, Senzatela induced a grounder from Max Muncy. First baseman Daniel Murphy’s dive, though, tipped the ball away from Rodgers, who was in position behind him on the grass. The next hitter, Enrique Hernández, crushed a Senzatela pitch for a three-run homer.
“We got unlucky on the ground ball there,” Senzatela said. “I could have gotten out of the inning, but I left a fastball in the middle to Kiké, and he hit it out.”
There’s another adage: solo homers don’t beat a pitcher. Three of the career-high four that Senzatela gave up were solo, but Hernández’s was the ballgame.
“That was the turning point in the game, to take it from a 2-2 game in the fourth to a 5-2 game,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
Keep pitching, keep hoping
Senzatela’s subpar outing (six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings) increased Rockies starters’ road ERA from 2.65 to a still-good 3.19. One might expect such work from starters to lead to better than a 6-7 road record.
In the last six road contests, none of them wins, the Rockies have had four quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs).
“Sometimes it seems like nothing is going well, but we just need to put it together and keep on pitching well,” Senzatela said. “We’re going to be all right.”
If you’re not hitting, fundamentals are important
In Saturday’s 4-3 walk-off loss, the Rockies had an improperly executed rundown in the first -- McMahon, playing second, didn’t check the runner at third, who scored. It came back to bite them.
Even with the lopsided final score, another early lapse -- this one offensive -- prevented a big inning.
Just twice in the last week (only once when it mattered) have the Rockies scored more than two runs in an inning. In the second, Murphy was at third and McMahon at second with no outs, and Rodgers was up with a 2-0 count against Dodgers starter Ross Stripling.
They didn’t score.
Rodgers couldn’t resist pulling a curveball for a hard grounder at third baseman Muncy, who deflected the ball straight at shortstop Seager. Instead of making sure the ball went through the infield, Murphy barreled to the plate. Not only did he make the first out at home, a no-no, but he couldn’t keep the rundown going long enough to let McMahon take third or Rodgers take second.
Three batters came up, none managed a hit.
With runners in scoring position, the Rockies went 0-for-9 on Saturday and 0-for-5 on Sunday, and in their last four games are 3-for-28. The struggles were one of the reasons star third baseman Nolan Arenado (in a 3-for-23 skid) didn’t start Sunday, but multiple players of all pedigrees are scuffling.
“There are times when our main guys single-handedly carry us and times when not-the-main guys find ways to win games, and they carry the load,” said Story, 4-for-12 in the series. “It’s unfair to point fingers because, being in the middle of it, we know how hard this game is.
“Keeping that perspective, I know that doesn’t help ease any frustrations or anything, but we know the work is being put in and the preparation is happening.”