Rockies fail to capitalize on home series vs. Angels

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) celebrates his two run home run in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies dropped two of three against the Los Angeles Angels at Coors Field over the weekend, further jeopardizing their playoff chances after a hot start to the season.

The Rockies’ offense failed to accomplish much of anything on Saturday and Sunday after Charlie Blackmon hit a walk-off grand slam to open the series. Colorado scored just five runs on 14 hits while seeing its bullpen fail to support starting pitching that, at the very least, worked around traffic effectively and put the team in position to win.

Daniel Bard, who blew a save on Friday before Blackmon’s heroics, combined with Yency Almonte and Carlos Estévez to keep the Angels off the board through nine in the second game of the series before Tyler Kinley surrendered a three-run homer to Jared Walsh in what ended up as a 5-2 loss. In the rubber match, Almonte allowed a run to cut the Rockies’ two-run lead in half before Estévez served up a go-ahead home run to Albert Pujols, who is now tied with Willie Mays for fifth all time with 660 career blasts.

Pujols’ crunch-time homer came after the Rockies’ offense went dormant for five innings once it jumped out to a 3-1 lead. A similar thing happened Saturday, when the Rockies led 2-1 after the fourth but didn’t score again in an 11-inning loss. Colorado had a huge opportunity to win the game with one out in the 10th after Raimel Tapia bunted the bonus runner over to third base, but Trevor Story struck out and, after Blackmon was intentionally walked, Nolan Arenado grounded out to end the threat. That inning and the top half of the next one, which featured Walsh’s aforementioned go-ahead homer, were a microcosm of the Rockies’ troubles over the last month.

Blackmon had a good series at the plate, finishing 5-for-9 with a pair of walks, but aside from Ryan McMahon’s game-tying homer to set the table for Blackmon’s slam in the series opener, there wasn’t a whole lot to like from the Rockies’ offense—especially when it mattered.

It’s a shame, too, because Rockies starting pitchers Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, and Ryan Castellani combined to allow just four earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. Castellani struggled with control, issuing six of the 10 total walks allowed by Rockies pitchers in the finale, but he gave up just one hit in 5 2/3 frames.

The Angels, who entered the series in last place in the American League West, put the Rockies in a precarious position as the season winds down. Colorado is a game and a half behind the San Francisco Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NL postseason race, but the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets—all teams that finished with better records than the Rockies in 2019—are lurking in the rear view mirror. The Rockies will have to rely on help as they navigate through another tough stretch that includes the likely playoff-bound Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers at home before closing the season with eight road games.

In short, it’s gut check time, and based on what we’ve seen over the last week, the Rockies might not have it in them to pass the test.