Doyle's big night (4 hits, amazing catch) undone by late drama

June 19th, 2024

DENVER -- For Rockies center fielder , Tuesday at Coors Field was filled with elation and love. Four hits, including a home run. A dazzling catch that should have solidified himself as the star of a happy night. An awesome highlight of his wife celebrating after said catch.

The good feelings were dampened by the disappointment, anger and helplessness that came with an umpire’s call, as well as the inability of relief pitchers to keep the ball in the park.

Colorado gave up seven runs on two homers in the top of the ninth -- including Teoscar Hernández’s three-run shot after the Rockies truly believed the game had ended -- led to an 11-9 loss.

Somehow, Doyle ended the night expressing unconditional love for baseball.

“It’s part of the game,” Doyle said. “Anything can happen, and that’s why it keeps the fans on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately tonight, we are on the losing end of it. But I know down the road we’ll be on the winning end of it.”

Doyle had three singles and a home run -- a solo shot halfway up the left-field grandstand for a 7-2, fourth-inning lead against Dodgers starter Walker Buehler. With two out and two on in the seventh and the Rockies leading, 8-4, Doyle ranged 58 feet to right-center and dove to snare a Shohei Ohtani line drive.

As Doyle landed, TV cameras caught his wife, ShelbyRose Doyle, high-fiving another fan from what has become her lucky seat in center field. Being closer to her husband, not in the family section, allowed her on Monday to track down the fan who caught Greg Jones’ first Major League homer and negotiate a keepsake for the rookie.

Doyle felt, but didn’t see, his wife’s reaction to the catch.

“It was the third out, so I made my way back to the dugout,” he said. “I’m sure she was cheering.”

Baseball got tricky from there. It didn’t allow starter Austin Gomber to enjoy his 6 2/3 innings during which he held the Dodgers to four runs -- one on a 476-foot Ohtani homer -- and struck out three. It didn’t allow the Rockies and their beleaguered bullpen to savor lefty Jalen Beeks forcing Hernández into a double-play grounder to end the eighth.

Instead, Tyler Kinley managed one out, walked two and gave up two hits -- one being Jason Heyward’s pinch-hit grand slam to cut the difference to 9-8. Victor Vodnik replaced Kinley and yielded an Ohtani single, struck out Will Smith, then had to intentionally walk Freddie Freeman because a wild pitch put Ohtani into scoring position.

Then came anger.

Vodnik’s enticed Hernández to bring his bat forward on a 1-2, 99.8 mph fastball above the zone. The Rockies were in celebration mode until plate umpire Will Little motioned for help from first-base umpire Lance Barksdale, who ruled it a check-swing. Manager Bud Black earned a speedy ejection for his protests.

“I saw a swing -- check-swing, but I thought he went,” Black said.

From right field, Jake Cave was certain Colorado had earned a victory. And between Hernández’s swing and the ball landing in the Rockies’ bullpen, Cave began screaming and hopping toward Barksdale. After the inning, second baseman Alan Trejo had to restrain Cave.

“I was yelling at him from right during the inning,” Cave said. “But then we made the last out and I’m coming in. And he looks me right in the face and goes, ‘Cave, it’s not even close.’ That’s when I really got [upset].”

Doyle said, “I knew by the reaction of Cave in right that clearly he swung, and I looked at the video and it’s pretty obvious he did.”

The bottom of the ninth threatened more romance.

Had Cave come to bat, he could have won it for the Rockies and been able to “look at Lance running around first.”

Instead, it was the sixth time the Rockies entered the ninth inning or later with a lead of five or more and gave it up, which is a Modern Era single-season record. The Rockies have surrendered six or more runs in the ninth three times.

“You want to be the guy to be the hero, just like if I was Teoscar,” Cave said. “I gotta believe he thinks he swung, and to look down and see the umpire say no swing, you get back in the box and you’re competing.

“That’s what went through my mind, too, when I thought I was going to get a chance.”