Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Wolters lifts Rox to walk-off win in wild game

Arenado: 'I knew we were going to win that game with Tony up next'
@harding_at_mlb
May 26, 2019

DENVER -- Tony Wolters’ offseason project was to simplify his offensive approach. And in case he wants to believe more is better, he has plenty of teammates to remind him through word and deed that less is best. After three hits Sunday afternoon, one simple thought -- fire at a

DENVER -- Tony Wolters’ offseason project was to simplify his offensive approach. And in case he wants to believe more is better, he has plenty of teammates to remind him through word and deed that less is best.

After three hits Sunday afternoon, one simple thought -- fire at a pitch high in the zone -- drove home the winning run in a wild 8-7 victory over the Orioles at Coors Field.

Box score

“It might feel weird that you’re being that simple, but it’s that simple,” said Wolters, who hit .170 in part-time duty last year, but is batting .309 in his first opportunity for regular starts.

Wolters’ sacrifice fly to left field gave the Rockies (24-27) their fourth win in six games. It was the second walk-off win in the three-game set with the Orioles, who proved to be a tough out even though they are tied with the Marlins for the fewest wins in the Majors (16).

But the victory -- and, really, the last month -- served as an example of a Colorado offense that is relentless, which is good because it has needed to be. The Rockies led Sunday’s game, 5-1, after six innings -- with Nolan Arenado’s two-run homer and starting pitcher German Márquez’s two-run triple in the sixth the big hits -- but found themselves behind a run after the O's scored three in the seventh and three in the eighth.

The final inning showed that Colorado can be dangerous, even below the heart of the order. Trevor Story, whose two-run homer on Friday gave the Rockies an 8-6 walk-off win, struck out to end the sixth and eighth with two on (on a five-strikeout day). But Colorado kept coming.

After David Dahl flied out to open the ninth, Arenado, whose homer off Orioles starter David Hess was his 14th of the season, singled against Brandon Kline. Daniel Murphy drew a left-on-left walk from Paul Fry. Against losing pitcher Mychal Givens, Mark Reynolds drew a four-pitch walk, and Ian Desmond walked to end a nine-pitch at-bat and force the tying run home. Desmond, who had two hits, laid off three close pitches and took a nasty slider for his RBI.

“Right when Ian walked, I knew we were going to win that game with Tony up next,” said Arenado, whose 201st homer tied Dante Bichette for the fifth most in club history.

“Give credit to my teammates having really great at-bats. Nolan, Mark, Murph, Des and I went up there with a simple approach, just seeing the ball up,” said Wolters, who drove Givens’ first pitch to score pinch-runner Jeff Hoffman.

The offense was the subject of much worry last year, when the Rockies made the postseason for a second straight year despite the lowest batting average in club history, .256. But the addition of Murphy and the maturation of hitters such as Dahl, Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia is helping the group come into focus.

The Rockies have scored five or more runs in 10 of their last 12 games. With 13 hits on Sunday, the team has reached double figures 15 times in 21 days this month. This series win came without Charlie Blackmon, who has been day to day since suffering a right calf injury Thursday at Pittsburgh.

The leader, of course, is Arenado. He didn’t homer until April 14, and it’s no coincidence Colorado is 20-15 since.

Wolters, an often game-changing defender, showed how a player makes the most of his big at-bat. Givens had walked a couple hitters and needed to attack with the bases loaded, but Wolters was not at all concerned about a pitcher’s problems.

“When he plays well, it makes the other guys relax and do their thing, and I think that’s part of why offensively we’ve picked it up the last month,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.

“Every at-bat is different,” Wolters said. “I wasn’t really thinking about those other at-bats. I was keeping my eyes in one spot, and it was in there and I’m swinging.”

... and don’t forget

The Rockies had poor starts the previous two games from Hoffman and Kyle Freeland. For the first six innings Sunday, it looked as if Marquez was the star. He had given up just three hits and thrown 77 pitches.

But the start went south after a high moment -- his two-run double off Hess in the sixth. Marquez fanned Keon Broxton, then gave up hits to the next four.

Marquez’s final line -- 6 1/3 innings, four runs, seven hits -- didn’t speak to the quality of his overall work. Three of the hits in the seventh were not hit hard. But he and the rest of the Rockies were holding their breath after Trey Mancini’s two-run triple in the eighth inning off eventual winner Scott Oberg (3-0) gave the O's a 7-6 lead.

“It was a little bit [frustrating], but you’ve got to keep moving forward,” Marquez said.

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.