Rockies drop opener to Phillies in Rodgers’ debut, lose 5-4

May 17, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond (20) reacts with second baseman Brendan Rodgers (9) after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The excitement for the Colorado Rockies was palpable after the promotion of their top prospect, a glean that wore off quickly in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bryce Harper lined a game-clinching double in the fifth inning to propel the hosting Phillies to their National League East-leading 25th win of the year.

Ahead are takeaways from the loss.

Gray battles himself all night

Jon Gray is no stranger to battling his own emotions on the mound. Fueled by umpire Angel Hernandez’ strike zone, those frustrations hindered his success.

The first batter of the game, Andrew McCutchen, started the spiral. Two of the five pitches in the opening at-bat were close calls that resulted in balls. The woes resulted in a leadoff walk that Gray worked around thanks to a pair of outs from his catcher on would-be base stealers.

After a clean second frame, Gray’s anger boiled over in the third. Against opposing starter Cole Irvin, he threw 10 pitches before walking his counterpart. Then, McCutchen once again made an impact:

The long ball was the 10th given up by Gray on the year in nine starts. He’s allowed at least one-or-more homers in eight of his outings.

In all, the Rockies’ second-most reliable starter on the year hurled 4.2 innings and allowed five earned runs. He also struck out eight and walked three to overtake Kyle Freeland for the team lead on the year (22). 

Rodgers kicks it off in style

Brendan Rodgers made his best case for a promotion from Triple-A Albuquerque. When given the opportunity on Friday, he didn’t disappoint.

For the Isotopes, Rodgers slashed .356 with nine home runs and 21 RBI’s. For his first chance at making an impact, he continued to drive in runs, this time with on a fielder’s choice:

The hit came after the youngster tagged a pair of runners out on throws from Tony Wolters in the previous frame.

In all, the newly-minted Rockies’ second baseman, in front of a bevy of friends and family that made the trip, went 0-for-4 on the night. 

Prior to his call up, the club was struggling at the position with Ryan McMahon at .242 on the year and the recently-demoted Garrett Hampson at a mere .194.

Production from their top prospect will not only shore up the right side of the club’s infield but could also serve as a permanent spot on the roster for Rodgers.

Desmond is inching closer to breaking out

It’s an understatement to say Ian Desmond has struggled since the Rockies gave him a five-year deal in free agency. Reversing that trend has been a constant goal for the versatile fielder. 

This year, Desmond was able to begin hitting off a high-velocity pitching machine once again after a multiple-year hiatus due to his young children. The results have been a completely different hitting profile.

Behind his .219 average on the year, Desmond has brought his groundball percentage from over 60 percent in each of his first two years with the club to a mark that’s hovered around 40 all year. His hard contact has also risen to over 40 percent, greatly eclipsing his mark from two years ago (27.1). 

The results were evident on an Irvin slider in the sixth stanza:  

The long ball was just the fifth of the year for Desmond after recording 22 last season.

Raimel Tapia has begun to overtake Desmond on the club’s depth chart, a replacement that has long been warranted. With his back against the wall, the latter is trying to heat up.

Rockies leave their whiff-heavy ways in Boston

In a game as old as baseball, making history is a black and white endeavor. Either the feat is ceremoniously good or painstakingly bad. Against the Red Sox, that history was the latter for the Rockies.

In both games at Fenway Park, the lineup of the Rockies struck out 16-plus times. The deed was just the 10th time it’s happened in back-to-back games in league history.

Against Irvin and a host of Phillies’ relievers, they reversed course.

In all, Rockies’ hitters struck out only four times in the loss, tied for their lowest mark in any game this season. Across five games in which they’ve struck out five times or fewer, the club is 5-1. 

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