Rockies continue to search for “big hit” in close games

May 15, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Colorado Rockies left fielder David Dahl (26) throws his bat after striking out against the Boston Red Sox during the tenth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Every Major League Baseball game has a moment. It could be a critical at-bat with runners on or even a hitter’s count that is dying to be utilized. In the Colorado Rockies’ case, the big splash has gone dry.

“(In) any close games, there (are) opportunities that present themselves,” Manager Bud Black said. “When you win a game, you get a big hit or you make a big pitch… if you get the big knock, you usually win the game in a close game.”

In back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Phillies, Black’s club has entered the final inning with a mere one-run deficit. The game before their series against the Phillies, they entered the final stanza tied at five apiece with the Boston Red Sox.

All three resulted in losses.

The trend has been something the club has dealt with all year. In games where they’ve trailed entering the final inning, the Rockies are 1-21 after their latest loss.

Dating back to the beginning of last season, their record drops to an abysmal 7-78 when trailing after the eighth inning.

The moments haven’t been non-existent. Both Charlie Blackmon’s walk-off home run and Chris Iannetta’s game-clinching long ball against the Tampa Bay Rays stand out. Those moments have served as an anomaly, with the lack of success in pivotal situations reigning as the rule.

“A couple big hits and we win a couple of those games,” David Dahl said after the loss. “As a team, myself included, we gotta do better with runners in scoring position.”

Across the three games, the Rockies have gone 6-for-29 (.207) with runners in scoring position. The mark is a significant decline from their season mark of 97-for-375 (.259) that includes the three-game skid.

In the last two games against Phillies’ closer Hector Neris, the team’s battery has failed to even make noise. Of the six hitters that have faced him in the pair of flawless frames, only Brendan Rodgers and Mark Reynolds have seen more than three pitches. 

As a team, they’ve yet to strike out in their final chance of each game. Overall though, the whiffs have come in large portions on their current road trip.

In only four games, the Rockies have struck out 57 times, a total that’s actually been relieved by their four-punchout effort in Friday night’s loss.

With Aaron Nola on the mound, the strikeouts were routine. As the Phillies leader, the ace has struggled after a breakout 2018 season. Prior to his latest chance at the Rockies, he’d registered only three quality starts in nine tries.

Despite his struggles, the team from 20th and Blake has been his antidote. Across two starts now, the Rockies have struck out a combined 21 times in 11.2 innings against Nola. 

Each time the club had runners on, with the lead in sight, they failed to put the ball in play. In fourth of the nine innings, the Rockies had a runner on second or further and had their chance thwarted with a whiff.

Early on in the year, the team was in constant fear of “pressing.” With the veterans attempting to win each game on one swing of the bat, the youngsters like Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon followed suit.

The maturity of the Rockies has often come into play late in games, mainly from their bullpen. Without the “big hit” occurring, their lineup has often failed to do the same.