Removing hail? Rockies' grounds crew doesn't fail

Díaz provides pregame antics, samba on tarp before logging 3 RBIs in finale loss to Dodgers

June 30th, 2023

DENVER -- Hours before a game that only non-Coloradans didn’t believe would be played, Rockies catcher  frolicked in the form of head-first tarp slides, some samba and hail angels.

Pea- to quarter-size hail pelted the Denver area and Coors Field Thursday afternoon. A white tarp covered the infield but as the storm continued, one couldn’t tell the tarp from the hail-covered outfield. Rain also mixed with the hail.

From that scene, a game began at 8:30 p.m. local time -- 1 hour, 50 minutes later than the scheduled start time. Then fun and games ended for the Rockies, who dropped a 14-3 decision to the Dodgers in the rubber game.

“I’m not a grounds crew expert or a get-the-field-ready expert,” manager Bud Black said. “But they had to work hard with shovels to get the hail off the field. Underneath, it has a tremendous drainage system and heaters. The infield was fine, perfect.

“Once they pulled the tarp, the quality of the drainage system and the grounds crew were phenomenal.”

The event was a dream scenario for groundskeepers -- by far the most valuable players for their ability to transform the field into being playable for the last game of a series -- and meteorologists.

But once the game started, it fit the strange form of the games played this week at Coors Field.

The Rockies are 3-3 on a homestand that continues Friday night with the opener of a three-game set against the Tigers. 

The wins have been thrillers -- 7-4 over the Angels on Diaz’s late grand slam, and one-run triumphs over the Halos on Daniel Bard’s 38th birthday, and over the Dodgers via clutch hitting by rookie Ezequiel Tovar. 

The losses? Try a combined score of 44-4.

Difference between Thursday’s finale and the other two losses was the Rockies had a lead. They were up, 3-2, through three innings, with all the runs coming from the bat of Díaz -- a sacrifice fly in the first and a two-run single in the fourth.

One might say Díaz’s good time continued even after the field was dry.

But Rockies starter Chase Anderson, who absorbed nine runs in a record-smashing 25-1 loss to the Angels on Saturday, lost the lead in the fourth. He gave up Jason Heyward’s leadoff double, then walked the next two batters as things spun out of control. 

“After the last two outings before this one, I said I just need to trust my stuff better, trust my four-seam fastball more,” said Anderson, staring at a 21.21 ERA in his past three starts. 

“It’s all about attacking the zone and not being fearful at all.”

Reliever Peter Lambert immediately served up Max Muncy’s two-run double and J.D. Martinez’s two-run homer.

Much of the latter part of the game was played in rain, or at least sprinkles. For all the weather and the poor result, the Rockies could not be accused of not preparing for a better day. 

In the sixth, down nine runs, Black drew the infield in with a runner at third and one out. Tovar at shortstop and Ryan McMahon at third base made run-preventing plays -- in hopes of creating habits that will be beneficial in games like the wins on the current homestand.

“You treat every game the same. No matter who you're playing, whether it's a Spring Training game, a World Series game, you do what you got to do,” Black said. “You got to play well.”

That’s rain, shine or hail.