Down to final out, Rox rely on late heroics

Iglesias delivers go-ahead knock as Colorado scores 4 in 9th to win in AZ

May 8th, 2022

PHOENIX -- Rockies shortstop José Iglesias might have a future as an entertainment critic after his baseball career -- which reached 1,000 games on Saturday night. Even while making deciding plays in the eighth and ninth innings of a 4-1 victory over the D-backs, he felt the pulse of the fans.

“It was a great, great baseball game all around -- both teams did a good job competing, and it was fun to watch,” Iglesias said.

If Saturday was a show, just call it “Winning on the Road, Where Runs Don’t Come Easy,” starring Iglesias, pitcher Kyle Freeland and, in his late-but-important role, Yonathan Daza.

Couldn’t beat the game at Chase Field for establishing a plot. Freeland threw six scoreless innings in his fourth straight solid start, while the D-backs’ Zach Davies shook off a 4.24 ERA to blank the Rockies for 6 1/3 frames.

After reliever Alex Colomé yielded Arizona's go-ahead run in the eighth, Iglesias fielded Nick Ahmed’s chopper to start an inning-ending double play. With Colorado down to its final out, Daza tied the game at 1 on an RBI single off Mark Melancon. Then, Iglesias singled in the go-ahead run -- with the dramatic flair of grinning and pointing to the dugout as he ran to first base.

It’s the kind of game Iglesias would watch, for all the nuances that make baseball worth watching even when folks aren’t constantly circling the bases.

And let’s face it, it’s the kind of game the Rockies have to play to win on the road in a pitching-strong National League West.

“Every time we get the opportunity to win a big game like this, it's huge for the team -- and it's huge for baseball,” Iglesias said. “But I think it was a great baseball game all over.”

There it is: A fan’s guide to the Rockies.

How can a team that traditionally struggles for hits and runs on the road find wins? On Friday, starter Chad Kuhl did his part, throwing six innings of one-run ball. Freeland followed him. Since April 19 -- the day the left-hander signed a five-year, $64.5 million extension -- Freeland has a 1.57 ERA over four starts.

Freeland knew it would take his strong start, and then some of the dramatic stuff Iglesias discussed.

“Good pitching matchup -- me and Davies, we were going back and forth,” Freeland said. “But in the end, we were able to string together hits in the ninth inning, put some runs on the board and let [closer Daniel] Bard close it down in the end.

“These are the ones you have to grind out.”

Colorado had lost five straight on the road. As pitching around the game shook off the effects of a shortened Spring Training and found its groove, the Rockies have found themselves faced with the familiar dichotomy of a run-friendly game at home and a dry one elsewhere.

That means pitching and defense -- which showed up in the eighth on Iglesias' 6-2-1 double play.

“That was probably as key as anything," manager Bud Black said.

Iglesias explained why sticking with Colorado, even through dry spells, could be rewarding for viewers this year.

“You’re not going to score many runs every night,” Iglesias said. “You’ve got to pay attention to details -- like 90 feet, read the ball in the dirt, put the ball in play, make a good defensive play. So many details in the game that you've got to pay attention to, and this team is creating awareness. That’s what it takes to win games.”