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Rookies over Rockies: Familiar ending stings

Senzatela cruises into seventh before game goes south
@SarahWexler32
June 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- For the Rockies, Sunday at Dodger Stadium was the worst kind of deja vu. For the third game in a row, Colorado fell to the Dodgers on a walk-off home run by a rookie. This time, it was Will Smith who delivered the decisive blow for a

LOS ANGELES -- For the Rockies, Sunday at Dodger Stadium was the worst kind of deja vu.

For the third game in a row, Colorado fell to the Dodgers on a walk-off home run by a rookie. This time, it was Will Smith who delivered the decisive blow for a final score of 6-3.

With the game knotted at three runs apiece, Scott Oberg, who’d been unavailable for the first two games of the series, was tasked with pitching the ninth. He allowed a leadoff hit to Friday’s walk-off hero, Matt Beaty, who advanced to second on a wild pitch two at-bats later.

Box score

Oberg retired the next two batters, then, with first base open, intentionally walked Russell Martin to set up the force out and bring up the pitcher Kenley Jansen’s spot. The Dodgers sent up Smith, who had been promoted from Triple-A earlier in the day. Smith did not miss Oberg’s 1-0 slider.

“It was the pitch I wanted to throw, just not the location,” said Oberg. “Initially, off the bat, I didn’t think he quite got it, but day games, ball travels a little more here, so it ended up in the seats.”

Neither Oberg nor manager Bud Black felt that unfamiliarity with the rookies factored into the games’ endings. And for most of the game, it didn’t look like the Rockies would end up in position for it again. Colorado led from the first inning up until the seventh and, to that point, had been getting a gem from starter Antonio Senzatela. He’d struck out five over six scoreless innings, holding the Dodgers to four baserunners, and seemed to be cruising heading into the seventh.

“He’s a horse, ‘cause he was still pumping 96, 97 [mph] in the seventh inning,” said Black. “There was a number of times he fell behind 3-0, 3-1, [and] got out. So he’s throwing strikes when he needed to, and that’s a good sign for a pitcher.”

However, that was when the bottom fell out. With one out, Beaty singled and Enrique Hernandez doubled. With his pitch count up to a season-high 109, Senzatela’s day was done.

“I threw really good pitches to Beaty,” said Senzatela. “I threw a good curveball, and he got a base hit on that. With [Hernandez], I feel like I threw a really good fastball down, but I think he may have been looking for that, and he got it.”

Quickly, another strong outing from a Rockies starter proved for naught. Pinch-hitter Chris Taylor knocked the first pitch reliever Chad Bettis threw into the left-field pavilion -- a “hanging breaking ball,” per Black.

The Rockies bounced back in the eighth when Tony Wolters doubled in Daniel Murphy. But that was it for Colorado, who wound up getting swept for the fifth time this season. It was the first time in franchise history the Rockies lost on walk-off home runs to the same team in three consecutive games. No team has done that since the Angels lost on three straight walk-off home runs to the Rangers on July 29-31, 2013.

“Coming from where we started to now, I think we’ve already shown [resilience],” said Oberg, referring to the Rockies’ 3-12 start, which included an eight-game losing streak. “I don’t think we’re going to look too much into a three-game set here. We’re just going to move forward and look forward to playing the Giants in San Francisco.”

Although the loss was the Rockies’ 11th straight against Los Angeles, Black refused to admit frustration with how his team has fared against the club now 13 games ahead of his in the National League West.

“No despair,” said Black. “When you play 162 games, when you play every year, as these guys do, for a long career, there’s gonna be great wins. There’s gonna be emotional wins. And there’s gonna be tough losses. We know that. On the other side, they know that, too.

“They’re on a little bit of a nice roll and things are going their way. Things can turn. We’ll be back.”

Sarah Wexler is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @SarahWexler32.