Rockies’ bullpen falters in another winless road series

Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Willy Adames (27) congratulates Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong (16) after he hits a home-run during their game against the Colorado Rockies Friday, June 25, 2021, at American Family Field in Milwaukee. The Brewers are losing to the Rockies 2-4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Mjs 062521brewersfans2473 101318440

The Colorado Rockies played relatively good baseball, particularly on Friday and Saturday, during their most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, the club’s propensity for losing on the road outweighs just about anything else.

The Rockies, after a rare road series split against the Seattle Mariners, were again victims of a sweep capped by a shutout loss on Sunday. It was the 11th time Colorado has been held scoreless in 37 games away from Coors Field. The series finale was an entirely different type of loss than the ones the Rockies suffered in the first two games of the set.

Colorado jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Friday, when the Brewers held their Opening Day redux with a full crowd in attendance. Jon Gray, in his return from the injured list, struck out 10 batters in five scoreless innings, and Josh Fuentes hit a two-run homer as part of a three-run seventh inning that seemed to break the game open for the Rockies. But Tyler Kinley, Carlos Estevez, and Daniel Bard each allowed home runs, the last of which a two-run shot that tied the game at four runs apiece. The Brewers went on to win on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning after the Rockies posted their fourth consecutive hitless frame on offense.

The Rockies again got to four first on Saturday, using a two-run homer from Trevor Story to take a lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. That was when Jhoulys Chacin, in relief of starter Antonio Senzatela, allowed a game-tying homer, making way from Carlos Estévez to throw gas on the fire by giving up four runs on two hits and a walk in a third of an inning. The Brewers eventually won, 10-4.

Chi Chi Gonzalez allowed just one run in five innings in the finale, but a lack of offensive support—the Rockies had just four singles on the day—and another bullpen blowup ensured Colorado would be swept on the road for the sixth time this season. Lucas Gilbreath was the guilty party this time, giving up three runs—including a two-run homer—on two hits and a walk without recording an out in a 5-0 loss.

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Ryan McMahon got the day off in the finale after earning himself a platinum sombrero on Saturday, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. He finished the series without a hit in 10 plate appearances. McMahon sat out both games in Seattle while dealing with forearm soreness and didn’t exactly look like himself in two games against the Brewers. He was the victim of some questionable umpiring on a couple of those strikeouts, but overall it’s been a rough stretch for McMahon; he’s 2-for-21 with 15 strikeouts over his last eight games since nearly hitting for the cycle against the San Diego Padres on June 15.

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The Rockies’ starting pitching staff had a good road trip. In what amounted to a full turn through the rotation, the unit allowed just five runs in 29 innings—good for a 1.55 ERA— with 33 strikeouts and five walks. Gray’s return to the rotation was particularly strong; his slider was an extremely effective weapon made possible by a sharp uptick in fastball velocity. Gray, over the last couple of years, has often found his fastball sitting at 92 mph. However, on Friday, the right-hander’s top offering averaged north of 96 mph. That helped his late-breaking 88 mph slider appear nearly unhittable.

What’s next

The Rockies return to Coors Field for their final homestand before the All-Star break. The last-place Pittsburgh Pirates arrive first for a three-game set before Nolan Arenado and the scuffling St. Louis Cardinals come in for four.

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