Colorado Rockies confident California trip could be catalyst

Jun 12, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; Colorado Rockies players celebrate after defeating the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies are not supposed to win in California.

Even in good seasons, which 2022 has decidedly not been, trips out to San Francisco and San Diego are where this club’s momentum goes to die.

So perhaps it was the baseball universe’s quirky sense of humor that meant they almost had to perform well in this year where they haven’t been able to top the likes of Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Washington.

But they managed to go 4-3 thanks to an appearance from the formula the front office had been hoping for when they assembled this group.

It began by the bay where the Rockies faced their biggest mental foe of recent years, the Giants. A 5-3 win featuring a clutch home run from Charlie Blackmon that was historically significant for multiple reasons backed up a quality start from German Marquez who desperately needed one.

He was able to recover from a three run first inning to go six without allowing any more Giants to touch home plate. The Rockies plus-side relievers, the firm of Kinley, Colome, and Bard, locked up the win by allowing just one base runner combined.

The second contest saw more good pitching, this time from Antonio Senzatela and The Firm but the offense fell into some bad luck and bad execution in key moments, making the game a tossup in extras.

Still, it’s hard to say what might have happened had Blackmon cleanly fielded a 10th-inning single but he overran the baseball and the Giants ran home for the win.

The rubber match went Colorado’s way thanks to an execution of the same formula but featuring different faces. Austin Gomber did the Quality Start thing and this time it was Robert Stephenson and Carlos Estevez who worked fantastically out of the ‘pen to hand things off to Colome for his third save of the season.

Ryan McMahon and Yonathan Daza were able to produce the well-timed hits that the offense was looking for the entire day prior, enough for a 4-2 win. 

Then it was off to San Diego for the type of performance much more in line with expectations. The Rockies lost 9-0 on a rare off night for starter Chad Kuhl and had almost no positives to take away. 

Then it was time for a Saturday double-header, and for the fifth time this year, Colorado lost the first game and won the second.

The first was well within their grasp, mirroring their extra-inning loss to the Giants in a number of ways. Ryan Feltner was back to excellence after his first hiccup of the campaign, pitching six innings and giving up just one run (a solo homer) on two hits while striking out six.

Lucas Gilbreath joined in on the good feelings in the ‘pen and Colome and Bard once again got it to extras with the offense unable to produce with runners in scoring position.

For the second time on the trip, Estevez fell victim to some bad defense that ended in a ridiculous walk-off. With two outs, a ball in the dirt skipped away from catcher Elias Diaz and Manny Machado took off for third. Diaz slung the ball that direction and nearly had him out but the ball went right by McMahon at third, allowing Machado to race home to deliver the loss to the Rox.

The nightcap was perhaps the most comfortable win of the roadie for Colorado and one of their better wins in recent memory.

They took it 6-2 and led 6-0 early after a five-run third inning saw them finally string together a bunch of hits. Six different players delivered one RBI and Kyle Freeland cruised to another Quality Start: 6 IP, 2 ER, 2BB, 3 K.

Stephenson and Colome kept it going for the plus-side and Estevez had his best appearance of the season, striking out the side to end the game.

And in the final game, they were able to split the series in San Diego and win the trip by once again sticking to the formula.

Just as it began, it ended with a Quality Start from Marquez who gave up two runs in seven innings, letting Gilbreath and Bard do the rest. McMahon provided the clutch hit once more with an RBI double in the eighth and somehow this team salvaged a more than respectable trip out west.

It’s just seven games that leaves them seven games below .500. But the question has been asked recently: “Considering how they played in May, how can the Rockies save this season?”

The answer is that they can play like this.

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