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Rox battle back, but can't finish comeback bid

Righty Marquez's struggles put team in early hole
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- A 96.3-mph fastball got away from Rockies right-hander German Marquez and hit Cubs star Kris Bryant in the helmet Sunday afternoon, and Marquez couldn't regain his handle thereafter.

After the hit batsman that sent Bryant to the clubhouse with a laceration above his left eye -- but no signs of a concussion -- the Cubs bested Marquez for three first-inning runs and six over 3 1/3 frames in their 9-7 victory at Coors Field.

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DENVER -- A 96.3-mph fastball got away from Rockies right-hander German Marquez and hit Cubs star Kris Bryant in the helmet Sunday afternoon, and Marquez couldn't regain his handle thereafter.

After the hit batsman that sent Bryant to the clubhouse with a laceration above his left eye -- but no signs of a concussion -- the Cubs bested Marquez for three first-inning runs and six over 3 1/3 frames in their 9-7 victory at Coors Field.

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"I was just trying to pitch in, and that one got away," Marquez said. "I'm glad he's doing fine. But I was just trying to continue to pitch and give the team a chance to win."

Video: CHC@COL: Bryant hit in the helmet, leaves the game

As much as the hit batsman may have bothered Marquez (1-2), who was coming off a standout performance in Pittsburgh in his last start, the Rockies battled back from 6-0 to threaten the Cubs' lead. A game that turned wild with unusual plays ended with a replay reversal that showed Cubs closer Brandon Morrow tagged out Nolan Arenado at the plate after his pitch had squirted away from catcher Willson Contreras with the bases loaded.

Arenado said he thought his foot beat the tag.

"It was still kind of close on review. It was hard to tell. But I was out."

Video: CHC@COL: Morrow tags out Arenado at home for the save

It was a strange end to a series played in less than ideal baseball weather with its share of craziness.

"That's not the way you want to lose," Arenado said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating. "I felt like a lot of things were going their way at times. Sometimes it went our way.

In the end, the Rockies were unable to overcome the early deficit that resulted from Marquez's issues with lefties.

Cubs left-handed hitters in the 4-through-8 positions in the lineup went 7-for-9 against Marquez. Not all balls were hit hard, and all the hits were singles, but for the season, lefties are hitting .472 (17-for-36) against Marquez. Last year, lefties batted .279 against him, while righties hit .270.

"I think I'm just throwing too many fastballs to them," Marquez said. "I need to start mixing it up, like I do to righties, and hopefully the results will come my way."

Manager Bud Black said, "I don't think there's anything he's doing different. Let's just see how it plays out as the season progresses. If anything, with most pitchers, it's about commanding the fastball and getting the breaking ball down."

Tommy La Stella, Kyle Schwarber and Victor Caratini had RBIs from the left side of the plate in the first inning, and Jason Heyward -- in a moment of glee on a day that saw the right fielder lose a Trevor Story fly ball in the sun in the third, resulting in a two-run triple, and an Ian Desmond deep fly in the fourth, which bounced off the wall for a double -- delivered a two-run single in the third. Javier Baez had the only righty hit off Marquez, but it was a solo homer with two outs in the second.

Video: CHC@COL: Story triples in two with help from the sun

"German's got great stuff, and he's young and a thrower turning into a pitcher, in my opinion," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "He's got a big arm with plus stuff, and he has really good command for where he's at in his career, and I think that's going to keep getting better."

The Rockies got consecutive home runs by Charlie Blackmon and Arenado in the fifth to cut the deficit to two runs. But the Cubs added three runs in the seventh inning, highlighted by Baez's two-run double and relief pitcher Steve Cishek's first Major League hit, a bunt on a play the Rockies left first base uncovered.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Rockies scored a run on Ryan McMahon's fielder's-choice grounder, and David Dahl, in his 2018 debut, singled hard off pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.'s lower right leg to score a run, and another run scored on an error on the play. However, the bullpen held on, with Morrow earning his fourth save despite allowing two hits and a walk in the ninth.

Video: CHC@COL: Dahl single, Edwards error plate two for Rox

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Too much Almora: In each of the first two innings, the Rockies had a runner at second base, and each time the rallies disappeared into the glove of diving Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. With one out in the second, Almora robbed Arenado, and he did the same to Noel Cuevas -- who was making his first Major League plate appearance -- to end the second. In the ninth, Almora crashed into the wall after snaring Blackmon's leadoff drive against Morrow.

Video: Must C Catch: Almora makes three sensational catches

"Their center fielder probably made two of the greatest plays I've seen in my career," Black said. "Those were hard-hit balls, Cuevas' ball, Nolan's ball, and even Charlie's ball at the end."

Who's on first?
The Cubs were up, 7-4, and had two on and one out in the seventh when Cishek -- batting because the Cubs had exhausted all their bench options except backup catcher Contreras -- went up to bunt. He got the bunt down with two strikes and Arenado charging from third and Desmond from first. But when Arenado picked up the ball and went to throw to first, he had nobody to throw to -- third was covered by Story, second by DJ LeMahieu -- and the bases were loaded. The three-run inning added some needed insurance for the Cubs.

Video: CHC@COL: Cishek bunts for his first Major League hit

"In that situation, 'Desi' will probably tell you that he needed to get back to first base," Black said.

HE SAID IT
"I thought we battled all day long. We kept coming back. It was a wild one." -- Black, on the near comeback

UP NEXT
When they last met on April 11, the Rockies and Padres got into a brawl. When they meet again Monday at Coors Field to begin a three-game series, Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra will be out, serving a suspension that stemmed from the fight. The Rockies will start righty Chad Bettis (3-0, 1.44 ERA), who held the Padres to two runs and five hits in five innings while beating them April 4 at Petco Park. The Padres will start righty Bryan Mitchell (0-2, 5.03).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies

CarGo goes on DL; Rox call up Dahl, Cuevas

Parra begins serving 4-game suspension, Tauchman assigned to Triple-A
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Amid the Rockies' Sunday morning roster moves, David Dahl made his long-anticipated return to the Majors and Noel Cuevas made his first trip to the bigs -- both up from Triple-A Albuquerque -- in the Rockies' 9-7 loss to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.

Starting in left field, Dahl went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. Cuevas, who started in right field, went 0-for-3 but was robbed of an extra-base hit by Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. on his deep line drive in his first at-bat.

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DENVER -- Amid the Rockies' Sunday morning roster moves, David Dahl made his long-anticipated return to the Majors and Noel Cuevas made his first trip to the bigs -- both up from Triple-A Albuquerque -- in the Rockies' 9-7 loss to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.

Starting in left field, Dahl went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. Cuevas, who started in right field, went 0-for-3 but was robbed of an extra-base hit by Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. on his deep line drive in his first at-bat.

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The reinforcements became necessary when Gerardo Parra dropped his appeal and began serving a four-game suspension for his role in an April 11 bench-clearing incident vs. the Padres. The Rockies also placed outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list with right hamstring soreness and optioned outfielder Mike Tauchman (1-for-23, three walks, 11 strikeouts) to Albuquerque.

Video: CHC@COL: Dahl single, Edwards error plate two for Rox

Dahl, a first-round pick (10th overall) by the Rockies in the 2012 Draft, excited the Rockies' faithful in 2016 when he hit .315 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in his 63-game Major League debut, but last year, a stress reaction in his rib wouldn't go away and eventually led to back problems. He didn't appear in the Majors, and was shut down at Albuquerque on July 31.

After two strong games to start this Triple-A season, Dahl came down with a stomach virus and didn't play for 11 days. Overall, he has hit .231 with two doubles and five RBIs in six games in Albuquerque, but feels healthy.

"It's been a while since I've been back, so I'm just excited, ready to get out there and play," said Dahl, who said his strength came back quickly after recovering from the illness.

This spring, a rusty Dahl began 0-for-15 but went 17-for-47 (.362) with five home runs, three doubles and a triple the rest of the way. Manager Bud Black said he wanted Dahl to get into the swing of playing regularly before bringing him back to the Majors.

"The at-bats have been really good, and I'm trying to carry that up here. And defensively, I feel like I made some good plays in Albuquerque," Dahl said.

Cuevas, 26, was a 21st-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2010 Draft. He came to the Rockies in the Dodgers' trade for relief pitcher Juan Nicasio in December 2014. Cuevas' breakthrough began last year at Albuquerque (.312-.353-.487 slugging) and continued early this year; he was hitting .333 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games.

During Spring Training, Cuevas, a native of Camuy, Puerto Rico, brought attention to the damage caused by Hurricane Maria on his home island.

"It means the world to my family, it means the world to the island of Puerto Rico, and especially my city of Camuy," Cuevas said. "I think everybody is going to be watching today in my city, and I love 'em all. I feel the good vibes."

Video: Dahl, Black on Dahl's promotion to the Major Leagues

While Dahl is a left-handed hitter, Cuevas gives the roster a needed righty hitter; both callups were in the lineup Sunday as the Cubs started lefty Jose Quintana. Cuevas also gives the Rockies a righty bench bat alongside Pat Valaika on other days.

Gonzalez suffered the injury while making a 5-star catch in Wednesday's 10-2 loss at Pittsburgh. Although he is improving -- he took batting practice before Saturday night's 5-2 victory over the Cubs, the need to bring in outfield reinforcements led to his DL placement.

"The thing that put us over the top was with Parra's suspension starting today and CarGo not 100 percent, we maybe would've been down to 23 players," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I mean, CarGo was available to pinch-hit and give us an at-bat, but we probably would have had to run for him. He isn't able to play defense the next couple days."

Gonzalez's DL placement is retroactive to Thursday.

Hoffman's status changed

The Rockies announced that they've rescinded the option to Triple-A Albuquerque for righty Jeff Hoffman, who is working his way back from right shoulder soreness suffered in Spring Training. Hoffman will stay at Albuquerque, but officially he's on the 10-day disabled list and on a Minor League rehab assignment. In Hoffman's last start, he retired the last 11 batters he faced.

Earth Day power

MLB celebrated Earth Day on Sunday. The Rockies are one of nine clubs that celebrate it all the time, since they use solar power at Coors Field.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, David Dahl, Carlos Gonzalez

Baez, LeMahieu explain spat at second base

LeMahieu denies Baez's allegation of sign stealing
Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- The Cubs and Rockies had a number of delays in Sunday's series finale -- including Kris Bryant's departure and injury checks on Albert Almora Jr. after a pair of athletic catches -- but the oddest was a heated exchange between shortstop Javier Baez and Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu in the third inning of the Cubs' 9-7 win.

LeMahieu reached first on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a Charlie Blackmon single. With Nolan Arenado at the plate, Baez started using his body to block LeMahieu's view of catcher Victor Caratini, whose signals, Baez claimed, were being relayed by LeMahieu to Arenado.

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DENVER -- The Cubs and Rockies had a number of delays in Sunday's series finale -- including Kris Bryant's departure and injury checks on Albert Almora Jr. after a pair of athletic catches -- but the oddest was a heated exchange between shortstop Javier Baez and Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu in the third inning of the Cubs' 9-7 win.

LeMahieu reached first on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a Charlie Blackmon single. With Nolan Arenado at the plate, Baez started using his body to block LeMahieu's view of catcher Victor Caratini, whose signals, Baez claimed, were being relayed by LeMahieu to Arenado.

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Baez had never tried the tactic before, but he had seen it used against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

"I don't know if it was the pitch or the location, but they were doing something," Baez said. "I'm 100 percent sure.

"We got to protect our team, our pitchers. This game is hard enough. If they're going to do it, don't do it to our face, because we're going to do something about it."

Baez continues hot stretch with 7th HR, 3 RBIs

LeMahieu denied stealing signs in a text to MLB.com's Thomas Harding.

"We have a good hitting team," LeMahieu said. "Teams think we are stealing signs all the time. We don't steal signs because no one in our lineup wants them. Their [shortstop] was trying to make a big deal out of nothing."

It isn't unusual for a runner on second to try to relay some kind of signal to the hitter, based on what he can see from that angle of the catcher's signs to the pitcher. Some hitters don't want to be distracted by information that might or might not be reliable, but Baez felt the Rockies were using their opportunities to hit Cubs pitching in the Rockies' 5-2 win Saturday, and he didn't want to see it again Sunday.

"Javy did something out there, where necessity is the mother of invention," manager Joe Maddon said. "We're always talking about this technological method of stealing signs. That was old-school. They're trying to give location or signs, and Javy was blocking. I loved it. I've never seen that before. That's some grassroots stuff. You might see that more often.

"Analytics were not involved in that play whatsoever."

Second base umpire Vic Carapazza had to intervene, and some players and coaches stepped in to make sure things didn't escalate.

"He was trying to get us out of it," Baez said of the umpire. "He was doing his job. He told me I have to get out of the way before the pitch was released, which I was doing. So I don't know why he was so hyper saying that.

"It didn't get me out of my game. I don't know what it did to them. It's part of the game."

The tension between Baez and LeMahieu rose after Arenado struck out while Baez effectively blocked LeMahieu's view of the catcher. Baez gloated a little to his teammates and wasn't shy about letting LeMahieu hear him.

"Right after the strikeout, I said to the outfield, 'You see the difference when they don't know the signs?'" Baez said. "And then [LeMahieu] said something. … We won the game, and the series."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez

Five-run 5th backs Anderson as Rox beat Cubs

Lefty recovers from rocky first to record quality start, with 6 K's
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies have been relying on their pitching while waiting for the offense to heat up. On Saturday, it was starting pitcher Tyler Anderson who took time out from an effective night in his main job to spark the offense.

Anderson drew a two-out walk with a runner on base against Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who was nearly unhittable to that point, with two outs in the fifth to begin a five-run rally that led to a 5-2 victory at Coors Field.

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DENVER -- The Rockies have been relying on their pitching while waiting for the offense to heat up. On Saturday, it was starting pitcher Tyler Anderson who took time out from an effective night in his main job to spark the offense.

Anderson drew a two-out walk with a runner on base against Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who was nearly unhittable to that point, with two outs in the fifth to begin a five-run rally that led to a 5-2 victory at Coors Field.

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"That's a big situation with two outs where a lot of times, personally, I make that out and the inning is over," said Anderson, who battled back from an 0-2 count to draw the walk amid his six strong innings on the mound, allowing two runs on six hits with six K's.

Video: CHC@COL: Anderson works out a walk against Darvish

DJ LeMahieu followed Anderson's walk with an RBI double, Gerardo Parra added a two-run single, and after a Charlie Blackmon walk, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story each pushed in a run with a single and a double, respectively.

Video: CHC@COL: LeMahieu rips an RBI ground-rule double

Before the fifth, the Rockies had managed just one hit off Darvish, Arenado's single to right field in the fourth. Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. had robbed LeMahieu of extra bases on a drive to deep center in the third. But in the fifth, the Rockies rallied in a way that has been unusual for them this year.

Video: CHC@COL: Almora Jr. makes an incredible basket catch

They entered Saturday's game leading the National League with 28 home runs, but were last in the league in batting average (.219) and 14th in on-base percentage (.290). But when Mike Tauchman drew a one-out walk from Darvish and Anderson received his free pass with two down, the Rockies suddenly had the patient at-bats that had been missing.

"Like we talked about, stringing together hits, stringing together at-bats. We did it from Tauchman all the way down to our last out," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "That's what it takes. We haven't had that a lot this year. Hopefully that's the start of something big."

Parra was in a 2-for-12 slump before an opposite-way, lefty-vs.-lefty single off Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery in Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs, and he felt that re-set his swing. The single up the middle that provided the tying and go-ahead runs confirmed his feeling.

Video: CHC@COL: Parra pokes a two-run single up the middle

"I feel more comfortable at home plate, and when you have a situation like that [Saturday], you help the team win," said Parra, who previously was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position this year.

Story, who has taken criticism for his strikeouts (two Saturday, 30 in 22 games) but has six hits in his last 16 at-bats, with two doubles and four RBIs, said homers are nice, but innings like the fifth should happen consistently.

"It's always good to have a big inning like that, especially against a guy like Darvish," Story said. "It hasn't been great offensively lately, but we put some good at-bats together."

Video: CHC@COL: Story lines a two-out RBI double to left

Anderson (1-0) trailed 2-0 on Willson Contreras' first-inning, two-run double on a mislocated changeup. But Anderson went with his fastball and hard cutter and didn't give up any more runs despite seeing the leadoff man reach in five of his six innings. He benefited from solid defense.

"They were really aggressive yesterday, so you thought at first a little off-speed would be good, but they were on it," Anderson said. "So I figured, maybe change the game plan and attack."

In the second, Cubs third baseman David Bote -- a Denver-area high school product (Faith Christian Academy) -- doubled with one out on the second Major League pitch he saw in his debut. But catcher Tony Wolters, who would later make a strong throw to thwart an Anthony Rizzo bunt-for-a-hit attempt, caught Bote trying to steal third to complete a double play as Darvish struck out.

Video: CHC@COL: Darvish K's, Bote nailed at third for DP

In the top of the fifth, Arenado fielded a Javier Baez grounder and slickly tagged Almora, who was trying to advance from second to third, then threw to first for the double play.

Defensive gems by Arenado, Wolters spark Rox

Video: CHC@COL: Arenado tags then throws to first for DP

Jake McGee, Adam Ottavino and former Cubs closer Wade Davis (ninth save) quelled the Cubs after Anderson departed.

Video: CHC@COL: Davis records the save against former team

UP NEXT
Righty German Marquez (1-1, 4.34 ERA) was effective with his fastball-curveball mix in his last start, holding the Pirates to two runs and two hits in six innings. Now the Cubs, whom he will face Sunday in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. MT, have something to think about. After throwing his fastball 57 percent of his pitches in his first three starts, he threw it just 44.3 percent of the time vs. the Pirates and thrived. The Cubs will start lefty Jose Quintana (1-1, 8.16).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Tyler Anderson

Defensive gems by Arenado, Wolters spark Rox

With Cubs mounting threats, Rockies get pair of double plays
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado figured he'd take matters into his own glove -- and his team responded during a 5-2 victory over the Cubs at Coors Field on Saturday night.

With aggressive Cubs baserunner Albert Almora Jr. at second -- courtesy of a fifth-inning leadoff double off Tyler Anderson -- Javier Baez sent a grounder that required Arenado to stray toward the middle of the field. Almora figured he could dash to an uncovered third. But Arenado wouldn't allow it. He made the one-handed fielding play and tag, all in one motion, and had plenty of arm to throw out Baez at first base.

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DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado figured he'd take matters into his own glove -- and his team responded during a 5-2 victory over the Cubs at Coors Field on Saturday night.

With aggressive Cubs baserunner Albert Almora Jr. at second -- courtesy of a fifth-inning leadoff double off Tyler Anderson -- Javier Baez sent a grounder that required Arenado to stray toward the middle of the field. Almora figured he could dash to an uncovered third. But Arenado wouldn't allow it. He made the one-handed fielding play and tag, all in one motion, and had plenty of arm to throw out Baez at first base.

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The play held the Rockies' deficit to 2-0. The Rockies would rally for five runs in the bottom of the fifth against Cubs starter Yu Darvish, including an RBI single from Arenado.

Anderson, who held the Cubs to two runs in six innings and struck out six, pointed out that Arenado and catcher Tony Wolters, who caught David Bote trying to steal third for a double play in the second, earned him four key outs.

Video: CHC@COL: Darvish K's, Bote nailed at third for DP

"They gave us two outs at third that were really big and helped keep momentum on our side with that one," Anderson said. "And then Darvish striking out and Tony making that play at third -- both of those. Anytime a guy goes from scoring position to off the bases, it's huge for us."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado

Rodgers among top prospect performers

Rockies' No. 1 racks up five hits, goes deep
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Rodgers, MLB Pipeline's No. 14 overall prospect, singled in his first two at-bats before connecting on a home run to left field, his third homer this season, in the bottom of the fourth inning. He added his third single of the contest in his next at-bat and then capped his big game with an RBI double as part of Hartford's four-run eighth inning.

The five-hit game was the third in Rodgers' career. The 21-year-old shortstop previously accomplished the feat with Class A Advanced Lancaster (June 9, 2017) and Rookie-level Grand Junction (July 12, 2015). It also extended Rodgers' hitting streak to six games, during which he's lifted his batting average from .143 to .300.

Rodgers homers on five-hit day

Fellow Rockies prospects Garrett Hampson (No. 7) and Yonathan Daza (No. 20) also collected multiple hits and plated a run in the Yard Goats' victory, while Brain Mundell (No. 18) connected on his first home run in a 2-for-5 performance.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday

No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves' No. 1) extended his hitting streak to five games with a 3-for-6 effort for Triple-A Gwinnett. The three hits were a season high for the 20-year-old phenom, who has lifted his average from .139 to .217, while also scoring five runs, during his current streak.

Video: Top Prospects: Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves

No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames' (Rays' No. 2) first home run of the season was a big one, as the 22-year-old shortstop connected on a second-inning grand slam in Triple-A Durham's rout of Lehigh Valley. It was the fourth straight game in which Adames tallied at least one hit and one RBI.

Adames' grand slam

No. 26 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1) was a tough-luck loser for Class A Advanced Clearwater despite tossing six innings of two-run ball. The 19-year-old right-hander, making his second start this season, scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five in the performance, throwing 63 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

No. 36 overall prospect Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3) filled out the stat sheet, tallying two hits, three runs, two RBIs and two walks in Triple-A El Paso's win over Las Vegas. The 20-year-old second baseman began his day with a two-run home run, his second this season, and went on to reach base three more times to finish 2-for-3. It was the second straight two-hit game for Urias.

Video: Top Prospects: Luis Urias, 2B, Padres

No. 68 overall prospect Fernando Romero (Twins' No. 2) was dominant for Triple-A Rochester, tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a loss against Columbus. A 23-year-old right-hander, Romero is still in search of his first 2018 win but owns a 1.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings across his three starts.

Romero fans his 10th batter

Dodgers No. 15 prospect Connor Wong capped his week just as he did the last one -- by hitting a pair of home runs for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The 2017 third-rounder connected on a two-run shot in the first inning and added a solo shot in the sixth, giving Wong eight home runs (as well as eight multi-hit performances) in his first 12 games. He also had an RBI single in the ninth for a total of four RBIs on the day.

Mets No. 14 prospect Anthony Kay -- a first-round Draft pick in 2016 who missed all of '17 while recovering from Tommy John surgery -- picked up his first professional win behind six scoreless innings for Class A Columbia. The 23-year-old lefty threw 59 of his 92 pitches for strikes, as he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five to lead the Fireflies past Hickory, 5-0. Kay has pitched well to begin the season, logging a 1.69 ERA across his first 16 innings (three starts) as a pro.

Kay picks up his fifth strikeout

Nationals No. 9 prospect Daniel Johnson enjoyed his best offensive performance of the season, going 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and three runs as Double-A Harrisburg fell to Hartford, 11-9. The home run, a solo shot in the second inning, was the first this season for the Senators' leadoff man. In 2017, Johnson, 22, was one of 10 Minor Leaguers to finish with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, tallying 22 in each category.

Video: Top Prospects: Daniel Johnson, OF, Nationals

Orioles No. 17 prospect Zac Lowther recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second time in three starts for Class A Delmarva. After striking out 13 and seven batters in his first two starts, respectively, the 21-year-old lefty fanned 11 batters in five innings Sunday while allowing one earned run on two hits and one walk. All together, Lowther has punched out 31 batters and allowed just five hits in 16 innings this season.

Reds No. 6 prospect Tony Santillan allowed his first earned run of the season in his fourth start for Class A Advanced Daytona, a 5-1 win against Dunedin. Working 6 2/3 frames, the 21-year-old right-hander yielded six hits and a walk while striking out six. He also induced eight ground-ball outs in the outing while throwing 57 of 87 pitches for strikes. He's 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA and a 24-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings on the season.

Red Sox No. 12 prospect Bobby Dalbec belted a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning that powered Class A Advanced Salem to a 6-4 win over Winston-Salem. The home run, Dalbec's fifth this season, capped a two-hit, four-RBI game for the 22-year-old third baseman, who had doubled earlier in the contest. He's produced a .923 OPS with 10 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs in 17 games.

Dalbec's extra-inning homer

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Desmond not concerned by slow start

Veteran slugger hasn't found his 'feel' yet, but history suggests it'll come
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- It's no longer about hand placement for struggling Rockies veteran Ian Desmond. It's about feel -- hands, body, swing, whatever -- and the feel isn't good right now.

The numbers suggest that. He entered Saturday with a .153 batting average, did not start against the Cubs at Coors Field and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the Rockies' 5-2 win. After lowering his hands in his stance during the offseason, the hands have crept back upward in his search to find comfort at the plate.

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DENVER -- It's no longer about hand placement for struggling Rockies veteran Ian Desmond. It's about feel -- hands, body, swing, whatever -- and the feel isn't good right now.

The numbers suggest that. He entered Saturday with a .153 batting average, did not start against the Cubs at Coors Field and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the Rockies' 5-2 win. After lowering his hands in his stance during the offseason, the hands have crept back upward in his search to find comfort at the plate.

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For now, all he has going for him is a track record that says he tends to struggle early. It also says he's capable of a turnaround.

"As a hitter, I am all feel," Desmond said before going to the batting cage for his hitting routine Saturday. "I'm not mechanical. When I feel it, it's really good, and when I don't feel it, I'm not good, generally, and there's some grinding in between there.

"So right now, I'm just looking for the feel and am less concerned with what the [mechanism] is. If I raise my hands up and I feel good, then I'm going to do that. If it feels good down, I'm going to do that. I'm just trying to find the feel and lock it in, and hang on to it as long as I can. But it's elusive right now."

Desmond is part of an offense that entered Saturday last in the National League in batting average and next to last in on-base percentage. The Rockies' faithful seems to have grown impatient with Desmond in the second year of a five-year, $70 million contract. He has hit .274 with a lower than expected seven homers and 40 RBIs while being limited to 95 games by left hand and right calf injuries.

Video: SD@COL: Review confirms Desmond's stolen base in 3rd

Whatever is ailing Desmond -- a two-time All-Star and frequent postseason participant with the Nationals, Rangers and last year with the Rockies -- the expectations of a fan base that hasn't seen his star-quality production are not among them, in his mind.

"As much as I appreciate the fans coming out and buying tickets, I'm not worried about anything except trying to get that feel back," Desmond said. "If the feel comes back, that's all that matters. That'll take care of itself, period."

Asked if he's feeling pressure regarding the contract, he said, "My sole focus is to go out there and win baseball games."

Some of Desmond's confidence comes from the fact April has usually been his worst month, including a .236 career average (his average is .266 or above in all other months). Desmond was 1-for-15 during a four-game series in Washington, but in his last at-bat, he lifted his hands higher and hit a go-ahead homer off Sean Doolittle. But the feel didn't stay; he is 0-for-14 since.

"Obviously, there are certain times of the year that are easier and harder," Desmond said. "By no means have I ever been a person who's going to lay April on fire throughout my career. So I need to identify: Is it the early season or is it the adjustment?"

Desmond can rely on his between-games work routine and be patient, because he has done it before.

"It could be one cage session. It could be five minutes from now when I go in the cage. I'm hoping that's the case," said Desmond. "Every day I hold out that hope. I know it's going to come back.

"This is my 15th year in professional baseball. For 15 years, I've gone through this where it's like, 'Is it going to come back? Yeah, it's going to come back.' Then it does, and it's an afterthought."

CarGo hoping to return soon

Carlos Gonzalez, out of the lineup for the second straight day due to a right hamstring strain, took batting practice and is hoping to be back on the field soon. With Gerardo Parra facing a four-game suspension that is currently under appeal, Gonzalez realizes his condition has to improve soon. The cold, wet conditions don't help.

"That doesn't help my cause, but I'm trying to do anything possible to get out there as soon as possible," Gonzalez said. "But if you have issues with your legs, playing in snow or rain is not going to help. What's important is the team gets my best version."

Video: COL@PIT: CarGo dives to make a five-star catch

Parra looking to heat up

Parra hopes his opposite-way, lefty-vs.-lefty single off Mike Montgomery in the eighth inning of Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs is a jumpstart. Parra had gone 1-for-9 against the Pirates in three games and scuffled before the hit.

"For me, when I hit it the other way, I'm back. I feel better," said Parra, who said he doesn't believe the pending suspension is affecting him. "That's my best point, taking it the other way."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Ian Desmond

Rockies' bats can't pick up Gray in loss to Cubs

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Cold rain pounded Nolan Arenado's black Rockies cap, and his balaclava -- ski mask in layman's terms -- tried to keep the awfulness off his face as he hoped in vain for one good thing to happen on a rough Friday night at Coors Field.

Instead, Kris Bryant's grounder refused to roll foul and plopped against the third-base bag. The hit drove in the final run of a cold, wet and helpless 16-5 loss to the Cubs that saw the temperature dipping into the upper 30s by the end.

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DENVER -- Cold rain pounded Nolan Arenado's black Rockies cap, and his balaclava -- ski mask in layman's terms -- tried to keep the awfulness off his face as he hoped in vain for one good thing to happen on a rough Friday night at Coors Field.

Instead, Kris Bryant's grounder refused to roll foul and plopped against the third-base bag. The hit drove in the final run of a cold, wet and helpless 16-5 loss to the Cubs that saw the temperature dipping into the upper 30s by the end.

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Video: CHC@COL: Bryant bounces an RBI infield single

At least the night started well for Arenado, who returned from a five-game suspension for charging the mound during an April 11 game and hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer. But in the end he was a cold, wet, high and dry Rockies player.

"Today was a positive, individually, but unfortunately we didn't win," said Arenado, who had three hits.

Video: CHC@COL: Arenado tallies his 150th career home run

It wasn't just that little went right for the Rockies. It's that the loss highlighted the problems that haunt the Rockies, even though they finished the night above .500 at 11-10.

After returning to the postseason last year for the first time since 2009, part of the Rockies' optimism was rooted in Jon Gray, their No. 1 starter, and an offense expected to produce -- especially at Coors.

But on Friday:

• Gray (1-4) didn't have his slider, lost his fastball location as the evening progressed and was charged with seven runs (five earned) in five-plus innings.

• An offense that entered the night last in the National League in batting and on-base percentage improved both of those figures by five points -- .219 batting, .290 OBP. But most of that came when the game was well out of hand.

• The loss left the Rockies at 2-5 at Coors. The road start has been good, but for a team that has had two winning road records in its history -- 2009 and last season, both at 41-40 -- contention is not sustainable when struggling at home.

Starting pitching, combined with a bullpen that has been hard to beat with a lead, has kept the Rockies afloat. However, that pitching hasn't come from a frustrated Gray.

"I'm really just trying to wait for this nightmare to end," Gray said. "I feel like I'm making strides each time but the results are just not there yet. But it's not going to keep me from going back out next time and giving everything I have."

Unlike many of his other starts, which featured just enough mistakes to prevent him from being dominant, Gray had little of his stuff. He finished with one strikeout. In losses in his last two starts, Gray fanned 12 in 10 2/3 innings.

"If there's one thing, tonight he didn't throw very many good sliders, and usually when Jon has his slider and his fastball command he'll get some strikeouts," Rockies manager Bud Black said.

Gray coughed up a Javier Baez two-run homer on the game's third pitch. Although the leadoff hitter reached in each of his first four innings, he was in a 3-3 tie going into the fifth. Baez's one-out double and some less-than-stellar defense (something that hasn't been a problem) led to a two-run inning, and Gray lasted two batters in the sixth.

Righty reliever Bryan Shaw struggled after replacing Gray, giving up five runs on four hits, including Kyle Schwarber's three-run homer, while managing just two outs.

After Arenado's homer gave the Rockies a 3-2 lead, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (1-1) settled in and finished with six strikeouts in five innings. Beyond Arenado, the Rockies' best offensive performer -- at least during the competitive portion -- was Gray, who doubled in the second and singled in the fifth.

Gray has a .222 season batting average -- higher than that of Friday starters Gerardo Parra (.215 as his slump dragged to 2-for-19), Trevor Story (.216), Ian Desmond (.153 and on a 2-for-29 skid) and Ryan McMahon (.158, although he could celebrate the first two-hit game of his career). Gray is 13 points behind Carlos Gonzalez (.235), who sat out nursing a right hamstring injury.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Decision of disappointment: With the score tied at 3 in the fifth, Gray needed his defense. Problem was Story wanted more.

With one out and Baez at second, Story fielded Bryant's bouncer to shortstop and fired to Arenado at third, who could not tag Baez in time. (Baez was originally ruled out, but the call was overturned after the Cubs challenged).

Video: CHC@COL: Baez avoids tag, safe at third after review

Had Story gone to first for the simple out, all Gray needed to do was retire Anthony Rizzo for a scoreless inning. Instead, Rizzo's grounder plated a run, then Arenado's first error of the season -- a difficult throw that McMahon couldn't handle -- let another run score.

SOUND SMART
Gray's slider has not been consistent this season. Last season, out of 80 balls in play against Gray's slider, 11 were hard hit (95 mph or greater exit velocity), according to Statcast™. This season, of the 30 balls in play against the slider, 10 have been hard hit. One of those came Friday -- the Baez homer.

Video: CHC@COL: Baez smacks a two-run homer to right

HE SAID IT
"Collectively, I'm getting tired of saying it, we need five or six guys on a roll, and we only have a couple." -- Black, on the Rockies' offense

UP NEXT
Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson gave up three runs (one earned) in his last start Sunday at Washington, walking six over 4 2/3 innings. Anderson (0-0, 4.74 ERA) will start on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. MT against Cubs righty Yu Darvish (0-1, 6.00 ERA), who has never pitched at Coors Field.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado, Jon Gray

Suspension over, Arenado homers in 1st AB

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Having watched way more baseball than he wanted to during a five-game suspension, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado swatted the first pitch he saw from Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks for a two-run homer in Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs.

Arenado had been suspended for charging the mound when the Padres' Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind him on April 11. Before Friday's game, Arenado said watching the team was tough, although the Rockies managed to go 3-2 without him.

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DENVER -- Having watched way more baseball than he wanted to during a five-game suspension, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado swatted the first pitch he saw from Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks for a two-run homer in Friday night's 16-5 loss to the Cubs.

Arenado had been suspended for charging the mound when the Padres' Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind him on April 11. Before Friday's game, Arenado said watching the team was tough, although the Rockies managed to go 3-2 without him.

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"I was probably a little more nervous, just because I was hoping they would win," Arenado said. "Being in the fight, you don't really think of anything. You just go out there and compete. But watching, you hope they win. I felt guilty, not being out there. I feel like if they lost, it was like it was personally my fault because I wasn't doing anything to help."

Video: Nolan Arenado back in Rockies' lineup

Arenado certainly helped Friday.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Javier Baez's sixth homer of the year on Rockies starter Jon Gray's third pitch. But in the bottom of the first, Charlie Blackmon delivered an RBI single. Arenado came up to warm applause, then poked Hendricks' 84.5-mph slider over the out-of-town scoreboard in right for his 150th career home run.

During the suspension, Arenado found himself feeling old while taking at-bats Monday through Wednesday in extended spring training at the club's complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Some of the players, who are awaiting assignment to Minor League clubs and may not join a team until the Rookie and Short Season teams begin play in June, are a decade younger than Arenado.

"There were a couple of guys there that were like 16 or 17," said Arenado. "That was a little weird. I felt really old, especially with my birthday, getting older.

"It was cool talking to them, cool being around young kids. It kind of gives you a little bit more energy, to be honest with you. They're younger, a little bit more bouncy and wanted to do more stuff. It was fun."

In Arenado's absence, the team hit .170 with a .241 on-base percentage. However, seven of the 27 hits were home runs, which turned out to be enough when the pitching performed well. In defense of the hitters, the Rockies played in sub-freezing wind chill two of the nights in Pittsburgh.

"Maybe swings and misses a little too much, but it's cold," Arenado said. "It's not easy to play in that weather, in those conditions. I don't know if I would have done anything, either, in those conditions, but they battled, they did the best they could and found a way to win. It was good starting pitching, our bullpen did a good job and our defense is really good. That's how you win ballgames."

But even before the suspension Arenado was subpar (.288, one home run, six RBIs) right along with his teammates. His 17 at-bats over the three days in extended spring training were designed to find the power in his swing.

"I had a couple of things I wanted to work on, probably won't share them -- just kind of personal things," he said. "But I feel good. I feel fresh. I don't like missing games but I had to do it. I'm trying to look at the positives."

Being a Major Leaguer among younger players who aren't making much meant Arenado was the one paying for the party, even though he was the guy with the birthday. It is customary during injury rehab assignments for a Major Leaguer to pay for a nice meal for the team. Arenado found himself figuring out how to treat at least three teams' worth of players.

"Extended is tough, but I got a taco truck the last day, so everyone got to eat some tacos and just hang out," he said.

Worth noting
• Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez suffered a slight right hamstring strain in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. That and the expectation of cold weather with the possibility of rain and snow Friday dictated that he would not be in the lineup. Gonzalez said he would be available off the bench.

Video: COL@PIT: CarGo dives to make a five-star catch

Gerardo Parra started in right field in Gonzalez's stead. Parra is facing a four-game suspension, but he said Friday there was no word on his appeal.

• Fresh off a solid injury rehab start, righty Jeff Hoffman was recalled, then optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. On Thursday, Hoffman threw 73 pitches and gave up one run on two hits with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Hoffman retired the last 11 batters he faced.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez

NL West: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Yes, Matt Kemp and Chris Iannetta really are impacting the Dodgers and Rockies, respectively. We swear it's 2018.

There are plenty of new faces in the National League West, and a handful of new old faces as well. All of them are sure to play pivotal roles in what figures to be one of the sport's tightest division races.

SAN DIEGO -- Yes, Matt Kemp and Chris Iannetta really are impacting the Dodgers and Rockies, respectively. We swear it's 2018.

There are plenty of new faces in the National League West, and a handful of new old faces as well. All of them are sure to play pivotal roles in what figures to be one of the sport's tightest division races.

Three weeks into the Major League season, it's worth examining the performances of a few prominent newcomers in the NL West. Here's a breakdown of the early results and future expectations for the big-name new guy on each club.

D-backs
Who's the new guy? Right-hander Brad Boxberger

How's it going so far? Boxberger has been everything the D-backs hoped for when they acquired him from the Rays in December. The right-hander won the closer's job during Spring Training, beating out Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano. Arizona likes his downward-plane fastball as well as his changeup, which he has shown the willingness to throw in any count.

Video: ARI@LAD: Boxberger induces pop out to notch the save

What's on deck? Durability has been a question for Boxberger as he missed significant time in each of the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries. This spring he experienced a tired arm, and the D-backs have been careful with his workload. The presence of Bradley and Hirano have made it easier to stay away from Boxberger on the couple of occasions when they've wanted to give him a break.

Number to know: Boxberger is 5-for-5 in save opportunities over eight appearances. He allowed his first two runs Wednesday night against San Francisco, but he's struck out 11, and opponents are hitting just .179 against him.

Dodgers
Who's the new guy? Outfielder Matt Kemp

How's it going so far? Better than everyone thought it would. There have been zero signs of perceived bad attitude from Kemp's first Dodgers stint, which was mostly bluster anyway. He has been healthy -- not to be overlooked with Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe on the disabled list. Kemp is no longer Gold Glover Award-caliber, but he hasn't done anything terribly wrong in the outfield, either. A solid acquisition -- so far.

Video: LAD@SD: Kemp crushes a two-run homer in the 1st

What's on deck? Can Kemp keep it up? He's already been starting more than the club originally indicated, and he does have a history of hip and leg injuries. Manager Dave Roberts will continue to replace Kemp when the club leads, both to improve the defense and preserve his health. Kemp strikes out a lot, but opponents still must respect the bat.

Number to know: Kemp's .981 OPS is better than Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and everyone in the starting lineup other than Yasmani Grandal.

Giants
Who are the new guys? Third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder Andrew McCutchen

How's it going so far?
The Giants' prized offseason acquisitions slumped out of the gate, both lingering around the Mendoza Line early on. Longoria, however, appears to have turned a corner, with four multihit games in his past five. McCutchen, meanwhile, has done very little since his six-hit night against the Dodgers (which included a dramatic walk-off home run).

Video: SF@ARI: Longoria launches a two-run home run to left

What's on deck?
San Francisco is committed to letting Longoria and McCutchen figure things out at the plate, banking on their combined 21 seasons of big league experience shining through in the long run.

Video: LAD@SF: McCutchen's walk-off homer caps a six-hit day

Number to know: Neither McCutchen nor Longoria has ever posted a season with an OPS+ at or below 100 (meaning they've been above league average every year they've spent in the Majors). Right now, both are well below that mark.

Padres
Who's the new guy? First baseman Eric Hosmer

How's it going so far? Hosmer was off to a hot start before missing a couple games with lower-back tightness. He's fallen into a bit of a rut, going 2-for-21 over the past week. But Hosmer launched his first homer as a Padre at Petco Park on Wednesday night -- a rally-starting solo shot off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Defensively, his mishap in Houston grabbed plenty of headlines, but he's been rock-solid otherwise.

Video: LAD@SD: Hosmer crushes a solo homer off Jansen

What's on deck? Hosmer will continue hitting third, and he's going to anchor first base for the next five years, at least. (Hosmer's eight-year deal with an option after the first five was the largest in team history.) Soon enough, Wil Myers will return from the DL to help comprise a formidable middle of the lineup alongside Hosmer.

Number to know: Hosmer's 61-percent ground-ball rate ranks sixth in the Majors. He's seen a bit of good fortune -- as evidenced from his .348 batting average on balls in play. But Hosmer has done his part to hit the ball hard enough to find holes.

Rockies
Who's the new guy? Catcher Chris Iannetta

How's it going so far? Iannetta, who broke in with the Rockies in 2006, was brought in for defense and to nurture a young pitching staff. His impact bat has been a bonus. Iannetta has slugged .434 with three doubles and two homers. With the rest of the lineup struggling, he's filled in at the No. 2 spot.

Video: COL@PIT: Iannetta belts a solo homer to left

What's on deck? Even if the slugging declines, Iannetta's pitch-calling and leadership won't. If the offensive output continues over the full season, that's even better for Colorado.

Number to know: Iannetta posted a .953 OPS during the Rockies' first homestand of the season. Colorado begins a six-game stretch at Coors Field on Friday against the Cubs.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Brad Boxberger, Eric Hosmer, Chris Iannetta, Matt Kemp, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen

This is how Gray plans to right ship on the hill

Rockies starter confident he can begin delivering in crucial moments