Rockies' 9 runs not enough to overpower Twins in finale

June 12th, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rockies scored early and they scored late on Wednesday at Target Field. Unfortunately, the Twins did too, and much more emphatically. Minnesota’s five-run first inning and seven-run eighth inning were bookends to a 17-9 loss that cost the Rockies a winning road trip.

They went 3-4 on the road, splitting four at St. Louis before dropping two of three to the Twins. Now the Rockies return home for their longest homestand of the season, a 10-game stretch that begins Friday when the Pirates visit Coors Field.

“I feel like we’ve been on the road a lot this year, so it’ll be good to get home, kind of settle in with some routine and family and all that sort of stuff,” catcher Jacob Stallings said. “We’ve got a home off-day tomorrow, so we’ll kind of recharge and get back at it this weekend.”

The Rockies gave themselves a chance to clinch their first winning road trip since May 2023 by manufacturing a run in the first. Brenton Doyle singled with one out, stole second and moved to third thanks to an error on the throw. Ezequiel Tovar drove him in with a sacrifice fly, and the Rockies were on top, 1-0.

But the Twins plated five of their own runs in the bottom of the frame against Austin Gomber (1-4 this season), as six of their first seven batters had hits. They loaded the bases on three straight singles, including a perfectly placed drag bunt by leadoff man Manuel Margot. After Gomber fanned Jose Miranda for his first out, Byron Buxton singled to left to tie the game. Carlos Santana then emptied the bases with a booming double to the gap in right-center, and the romp was on.

“It started off with a bunt single, and then two soft singles that land in front of the center fielder, and now you’ve got bases loaded and nobody out and you’re right into the thick of it,” said Gomber, who had a 0.68 ERA in four May starts but has allowed 15 runs in 11-plus innings over his last three outings.

“I feel the same [as] I did a month ago,” Gomber said. “I’m just not making as good of pitches right now, and some things that were going my way are not going my way right now. That’s part of the game.”

The Twins knocked him out with three extra-base hits leading off the fourth inning and led 10-3 through six innings. But the Rockies didn’t pack it in. Doyle’s two-run single in the seventh cut the deficit to 10-5. Then, after a 37-minute rain delay, things got really interesting in the eighth.

Two walks separated by a Stallings double loaded the bases with nobody out. Twins shortstop Carlos Correa booted Jake Cave’s grounder for an error that made it 10-7. Minnesota turned to its closer, Jhoan Duran, but he walked Elehuris Montero to load the bases.

That brought up Adael Amador, who an inning earlier had picked up his first hit since his first Major League at-bat on Sunday. Amador hit a bullet -- 103.6 mph off the bat -- but it kicked off the side of the mound directly to Correa, who stepped on the bag and fired to first for a double play. Another run scored, but the play took the steam out of the Rockies’ rally, which ended when Charlie Blackmon popped out.

“10-7 in the eighth with the bases loaded and no outs. We were one base hit or ball in the gap [away] … but the worst result happened, the double-play ball. That’s baseball,” manager Bud Black said.

The comeback became a moot point when the Twins scored seven in the bottom of the eighth against Nick Mears and Josh Rogers. They had seven hits in the inning and 24 overall -- the most the Rockies have ever allowed in a road game.

“We were hoping that Nick Mears, who’s been one of our guys, could throw up a zero there when we’re down two to give us a chance in the ninth, and things went awry,” Black said. “And Josh Rogers got some pitches up too. So it went from the top of the eighth looking real good to a drastic turn of events which didn’t go our way.”

All the Rockies had left to look forward to was their 10-game homestand against Pittsburgh, the Dodgers and the Nationals.

“Our guys react pretty well coming back home,” Black said. “The off-day will be good, and then 10 straight at home at altitude where it can be at times challenging, but our guys will be ready.”