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Three takeaways from Rockies' 1st series loss

@harding_at_mlb
August 12, 2020

DENVER -- Wednesday afternoon’s 13-7 loss to the D-backs at Coors Field, despite two home runs from Nolan Arenado, left the Rockies with their first series loss of the season. • Box score It was a typical Mile High series, with high scores and -- for the home team --

DENVER -- Wednesday afternoon’s 13-7 loss to the D-backs at Coors Field, despite two home runs from Nolan Arenado, left the Rockies with their first series loss of the season.

Box score

It was a typical Mile High series, with high scores and -- for the home team -- the good and bad that comes with that. The National League West-leading Rockies, who left 13 runners on base, are now 12-6, with a rare day off Thursday and the Rangers arriving Friday to begin a three-game set.

When that series begins, Charlie Blackmon will have a sizzling .472 batting average. But he will no longer have a hit streak. That ended at 15 games Wednesday, when he went 0-for-4 with an intentional walk and a strikeout.

Here are three takeaways from the three-game set:

1. Don’t (necessarily) blame the starting pitching
Yes, the D-backs tied their club record with 32 runs at Coors Field. But two of the three Rockies starts were solid. Kyle Freeland yielded just two runs in seven innings Tuesday, before the game became an 8-7 mess Colorado won. And Wednesday, starter Antonio Senzatela was victimized by poor defense.

Senzatela entered the fifth with a two-run lead, before center fielder Sam Hilliard lost Stephen Vogt’s popup in the sun for a double. Ketel Marte’s RBI single to right tied it, but Raimel Tapia’s ill-advised throw to the plate allowed Marte to take second. He would score the go-ahead run.

Then, there was the out-of-control eight-run seventh, which included reliever Tyler Kinley not recording an out while giving up five runs on four hits and a walk.

“They’ll be addressed, obviously,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We pride ourselves on our defense.”

So while Senzatela was saddled with nine hits and five runs in six innings, his outing was more in line with the 23 (of the last 25) games in which a Colorado starter has given up three or fewer runs.

“I put my fastball in the place I want,” said Senzatela, whose 95.4 mph four-seam average velocity (he topped out at 98.1 mph) was a season high. “I felt really good, but I had bad luck. That’s fine.”

The question is whether Jon Gray’s 11 hits and eight runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings of Monday night’s series opener can be chalked up to his home struggles against the D-backs, or if it was a sign that he needs the velocity that has eluded him so far.

2. You knew Arenado would heat up, but are Hampson and Tapia next ... and what about McMahon?
Arenado’s slump heading into this series seems ancient after a four-hit game Monday, a homer Tuesday and a pair of game-tying homers Wednesday. That’s six home runs in his last seven home games.

Arenado also added a run-scoring double in the eighth to surpass Vinny Castilla for fourth on the team’s RBI list with 741.

“It was just a matter of time before Nolan started being Nolan,” Ryan McMahon said.

Garrett Hampson had a career-high four hits, including a triple, Wednesday. Black said he is controlling his chase rate, and that will lead to better production. Raimel Tapia, who began the year primarily as the designated hitter, responded to consecutive starts with a pair of multihit games.

And McMahon, though he struck out three times to raise his total to 28 in 59 at-bats, jumped on a 3-0 pitch for a three-run, opposite-field homer in the fourth and singled in the fifth.

“Honestly, the best part was [Black] giving me the green light there -- it’s something I’ve earned,” McMahon said. “This season I’ve been striking out far too much, and it’s been frustrating, but it showed a little trust in me and gave me a little pick-me-up.”

3. Is there enough in the bullpen?
Thursday’s day off is the lone break in a 34-day stretch. Friday begins 20 straight days of games. With Scott Oberg (blood clots) and Wade Davis (right shoulder strain) already unavailable, the Rockies will need enough solid relievers to feel confident giving one of their main guys a day off.

Black didn’t necessarily see the need for sweeping declarations about the bullpen, despite the rough numbers over the last two games.

“You can reconstruct a lot of the innings and draw your conclusions about how they scored, but overall we feel good about our bullpen,” Black said.

Jairo Díaz, Carlos Estévez and Daniel Bard have earned late-inning status, while Yency Almonte and Jeff Hoffman have performed well as bridges to that crew.

There was some poor luck involved Wednesday, like a bases-loaded Starling Marte bouncer off the plate for a run, but the series overall has shown that the Rockies will require more from their relief unit.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.