Two early mistakes cost Rockies game despite Hudson's strong start

June 11th, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a game with two starting pitchers rolling on the mound, the margin for error is miniscule. The Rockies blinked twice on Monday, and it cost them the first two runs in an eventual 5-0 loss to the Twins.

Before Minnesota rallied for three runs in the eighth, the story of the game was a pitchers duel between and the Twins’ Chris Paddack. Both pitchers entered the game with disappointing 5.00+ ERAs, but they each pitched into the seventh inning in a tense and crisply played affair.

Well, almost entirely crisply played. The two aforementioned mistakes that bit the Rockies gave the Twins single runs in the third and fourth innings. The first came with one out in the third, after Hudson had retired the first seven batters he faced. Manny Margot drove a pitch to deep right, over Hunter Goodman’s head, for the Twins’ first hit.

Margot was about to pull into second with a double when he saw Goodman bobble the ball on the warning track. The miscue allowed Margot to take third, and he trotted home on Christian Vázquez’s long fly ball to right field.

In the fourth, the Twins had their leadoff man on first when Royce Lewis hit a soft chopper back to the mound. Hudson fielded it cleanly, but he double-clutched and sailed his throw to second base. Instead of being able to turn a double play, Adael Amador had to stay on the base to make sure they got the lead runner.

Of course, that missed opportunity cost Hudson. Lewis moved up to second on an infield grounder, and Carlos Correa’s two-out double drove him in for a 2-0 Twins lead.

“I kind of hesitated,” Hudson said of the misplay. “I knew I had Amador there coming to second but I kind of threw it to him as he was moving instead of just getting it over the bag.”

Those were the only blips in an otherwise strong start for Hudson. The right-hander allowed just four hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. And he kept his pitch count in check, needing just 75 pitches to get those 20 outs.

Despite that low pitch count, manager Bud Black pulled him with two on and two out in the seventh inning. Margot, who doubled and walked in his two previous plate appearances, was due up next, so Black turned to Nick Mears, who retired Margot on a fly ball to right.

“I think he was the one guy, him and Correa I think, that were seeing the ball good against him,” Black said of Margot. “And I thought with Nick, it was the right matchup to go get Margot.”

Hudson would have preferred to stay in the game, but he also understood what went into Black’s thought process.

“I feel like I had more in the tank, but at that part of the ballgame, they had a few things going,” he said. “We had Mears and a couple guys hot that are totally capable, so I was just trying to put the manager in a tough position there myself, but I trust his decisions.”

Still, it was the third time this season that Hudson allowed zero or one earned run, and after a rocky stretch in April, his season is starting to trend in the right direction.

“I feel much better where I’m at,” Hudson said. “I feel like I’m at a place where I’m making progress on executing pitches, so just trying to continue to get one pitch better.”

Black agreed, praising the movement of both his fastball and breaking ball and his ability to keep the Twins pounding the ball into the dirt, getting 13 ground ball outs. But with the Rockies’ bats being shut out for the fifth time in Hudson’s 13 starts, little mistakes made all the difference.

“Goodie misplayed the ball on Margot’s double, got him to third and then the sac fly. And then Huddy had the chance for the double play and threw sort of a changeup to Amador and he had to stay on the bag,” Black said. “We couldn’t turn a pair. That happens. You hate to see it.”