Rockies’ bullpen fails, offense a no-show in another loss to Dodgers
The Rockies’ discombobulated season of discontent continues.
An imploding bullpen and a disappearing offense were the usual suspects in a 9-3 loss to the powerful Dodgers Thursday night at Coors Field. The Dodgers have won eight of their last 11 games in LoDo, dating back to last season.
The Rockies managed only five hits, just two after the first inning — a lonely single by Kevin Pillar to lead off the seventh and a solo homer by Trevor Story in the eighth.
The Rockies have been held to three or fewer runs in five consecutive games, the longest single-season streak at home in franchise history.
“We haven’t been getting the job done, offensively, of late,” said Story, whose 11 homers lead the team. “Our pitchers have been getting the job done, especially our starters. We haven’t picked those guys up. That’s on us.”
Colorado — 11-16 at home, 22-27 overall and all but mathematically eliminated from the eight-team playoff field — got a decent start from lefty Kyle Freeland. But it all fell apart in the Dodgers’ six-run seventh inning; the most runs they have scored in an inning this season.
Los Angeles (36-15) sent 10 men to the plate, starting their hit parade with Kike Hernandez’s one-out double off of Freeland. When Freeland walked the next batter, Edwin Ríos, manager Bud Black pulled Freeland and inserted right-hander Carlos Estevez.
That move blew up quickly when the Dodgers scored four runs (three earned) in just one-third inning off Estevez. The big blows were a run-scoring single by Mookie Betts, an RBI double by Corey Seager and a two-run double down the left-field line by Will Smith.
“I think at that point, Kyle had sort of hit the wall,” Black said, explaining his decision to remove Freeland and go with Estevez, who now has an ERA of 7.89. “(Freeland’s) stuff wasn’t as crisp as I think it was (ending) the sixth.”
Following the sixth inning, Black and Freeland consulted in the dugout.
“(Freeland) said, ‘I’ll give you one more (inning),’ and I said, ‘Great, great, You’re throwing fine,” Black said. “But then he just lost a little bit of zip on his fastball. I think when he walked Rijos, that was a sign to take him out.”
As for the decision to pitch Estevez, who’s run hot and cold this season, Black said the reasons were two-fold. He said that Mychal Givens and Yency Almonte were unavailable and he thought Estevez had the firepower to do the job.
“We went with Carlos who had three days of rest was been throwing with good velocity of late,” Black said, noting that the right-hander’s fastball was hitting 98-99 mph.
But has been the case so often lately, Estevez’s pitch location was poor and the Dodgers took full advantage. The Rockies, by the way, have allowed 27 of 66 inherited runners to score this season. That’s 40.9% and ranks last in the National League and is currently the worst percentage in franchise history.
The Dodgers added a leadoff solo homer by Ríos off Wade Davis in the eighth. Davis, who’s struggled with a shoulder injury most of the season, pitched for the first time since July 31.
Rockies starters entered the game having posted a 2.10 ERA with four quality starts in the first five games of the homestand. Freeland couldn’t continue that trend, giving up four runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, but given the current state of Colorado’s offense, it didn’t really matter.
“I felt really good,” Freeland said. “The pitch mix was really good tonight and Tony (Wolters) really was calling a great game behind the dish. I had a good slider and an on-point changeup that was keeping them off-balance.
“So, I was overall happy with it. We wanted to finish that seventh inning there and keep it a tie ballgame. But overall I felt good about my performance.”
The Dodgers nearly blew the game open in the fourth but the gritty Freeland was able to limit the damage to just two runs. Seager — who finished a triple short of the cycle — led off with a 424-foot liner into the right-field seats, and then the Dodgers packed the bases with two outs when Freeland’s inside pitch barely grazed Chris Taylor. The Rockies no doubt took a deep breath when Ríos drove the ball deep to left but the Rockies’ Raimel Tapia caught it on the warning track for the final out.
The Rockies plated a 2-0 lead in the first inning by doing something they have failed to do most of this season: string together solid at-bats. Tapia led off with a single, Story doubled and Charlie Blackmon drove home Tapia with a sacrifice fly to right. When Pillar drove in Story with a two-out single, the cheers from the Rockies bench reverberated through the mostly empty ballpark.
But then Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías shut up the Rockies, setting down 13 in a row before Tapia reached on an error on a hard grounder off third baseman Edwin Ríos’ glove to lead off the sixth. But Urias got Story to fly out to right and Blackmon to ground out to third. Into the game came reliever Dylan Floro, who got the struggling Nolan Arenado to foul out to first.