There aren’t supposed to be pitchers’ duels in Denver. The air is crisp and thin. The balls jump off the bat and the curves don’t spin. Hitters’ paradise.
Well for nine innings it seemed like the visiting Astros had brought some of their heavy Houston air with them.
Or maybe the problem was Gerrit Cole. For six innings he held the hot Rockies bats scoreless, allowing only two 2 hits and striking out nine. The ball certainly won’t travel when the bats don’t touch it.
Meanwhile he was bequeathed a early two run lead thanks to an Alex Bregman first inning home run, his 21st.
But in the seventh the Rockies finally got to Cole. In the thin air Cole relied on his fastball to an unusual degree, but as his pitch count mounted, the Rockies began to make contact; a lead off Nolan Arenado double, an RBI Carlos Gonzalez double, and a Gerardo Parra single to tie the game that knocked Cole out of the game and tied the score.
Fortunately for the Astros, relief pitcher Collin McHugh limited the damage with a double play line out, George Springer to Yuli Gurriel, to end the inning.
Then it was quiet again.
Until the 10th inning. It’s like the Astros suddenly realized, “hey, we’re in Denver dudes. We’re supposed to be gettin hits.”
Josh Reddick led off with a solid single to center which was misplayed by center fielder Charlie Blackmon, putting Reddick on third. After a failed bunt attempt with two strikes by Marwin Gonzalez, Max Stassi walked, and Tony Kemp got what would be the game winning hit with a line drive to short center, scoring Reddick.
That would be enough, but the Astros never settle. The struggling rookie we call Ted came up. Off the bat it looked like Kyle Tucker, the slender left hander with the sweet swing, had his first big league home run. It was only a two run triple, but it would do. Three run lead, one out.
Then next batter George Springer poked his bat out at a low pitch and got the barrel to a ball he pointed right over the left field fence, a two run homer, his 17th.
Not to be left out, Alex Bregman doubled, and scored on a Gurriel single of course, because, well, there was a runner in scoring position, and Gurriel leads the league in batting average with runners in scoring position.
No bullpen meltdown tonight. Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, and Brad Peacock get big credit for preventing a Rockies win or walk-off by holding them scoreless through innings eight through ten respectively. Rondon got the win.
The hard luck starter for Colorado was Tyler Anderson who held the Astros to two runs, only one earned, in 7.1 innings pitched. The normally reliable Rockies closer Wade Davis took the loss. Two Colorado errors turned out to be crucial in the loss tonight.
Tomorrow Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.96 ERA) faces Jon Gray (8-7, 5.44 ERA). Game time 7:40 CDT.
Box score and videos here.
Quick Week in Review
I won’t be able to write the Week in Review column any more but I will include a very abbreviated version in the Monday or Tuesday game recaps.
Because of the All Star game I am giving a few basic statistics going back 14 days.
Over the last 14 days the Astros’ batters have a 92 wRC+, 20th in MLB.
The pitchers have allowed 4.39 runs/ nine innings, 13th in the league. The starters’ ERA has been 3.78, 8th, and the relievers 5.34, 22nd.
Hot hitters during this span have been Alex Bregman, 191 wRC+, Tony Kemp, 184, Marwin Gonzalez, 156, and George Springer, 131.
Cold bats include Max Stassi, 54 wRC+, Yuli Gurriel, 44, Jose Altuve, 33, and Kyle Tucker, 15.
The best starters have been Dallas Keuchel, 0.66 ERA, Gerrit Cole, 1.56, and Justin Verlander, 2.50.
Ice cold on the mound have been Lance McCullers, 11.88 ERA, and Chris Devenski, 16.20.
All numbers exclude this evening’s performance.