Rockies fall short of winning road trip with series loss in Texas

Aug 31, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe (30) reaches first base on an infield single against Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) in the fifth inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing we know for sure about the Road Colorado Rockies, it’s that nothing is for sure.

The Rockies built up a ton of momentum–or, at the very least, some good will–after taking two of three from the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine this past weekend. A trip to Texas to take on the Rangers, who are one of the worst teams in the league, seemed like a great opportunity for Colorado to seal its first winning road swing of 2021. Instead, the Rockies lost a pair of 4-3 contests to start the series, ensuring yet another losing road trip for a team that is now 18-50 away from its home park.

Staff ace Germán Márquez was on the hill in the opener opposite a pitcher in A.J. Alexy who was making his major league debut, so one had to feel good about the Rockies’ chances. But Márquez, who has not been himself during the second half of the season, allowed four runs on seven hits–including three home runs–in six innings. Alexy, meanwhile, held the Rockies to just one hit in five frames. A late rally led by a couple of home runs off the bat of Trevor Story wasn’t enough to lead Colorado to a win.

Austin Gomber’s struggles since returning from the injured list in late July continued in Game 2, when the southpaw issued six walks in 4 1/3 innings. Gomber also gave up a pair of homers that led to four runs. Former Rockies and current Rangers starter Jordan Lyles yielded three home runs himself, but all of them were of the solo variety; the veteran righty kept Colorado hitters off the basepaths otherwise in another victory for Texas.

The Rockies found themselves in serious danger of being swept after falling behind 5-0 early in the series finale. Kyle Freeland left the game with an injury after just one inning of work, and Colorado’s offense did nothing the first time through against Rangers starter Kohei Arihara. But Brendan Rodgers’ one-out homer kicked off a chain of events that eventually saw the Rockies score nine unanswered runs to avoid the sweep. Rodgers hit a go-ahead, two-run double with one out in the ninth and led the Rockies with two hits, a walk, and three RBI.

Trending down

It has simply not been a good second half for Rockies starters Márquez, Gomber, and Jon Gray. The latter found himself on the injured list with forearm tightness, which is of at least some concern going forward. Meanwhile, both Márquez and Gomber–against the worst offensive team in the American League–put up another in a string of poor performances. Márquez, who is becoming notoriously streaky, owns a 5.98 ERA since the All-Star break despite striking out nearly a batter per inning and maintaining a fairly low walk percentage.

His slump is probably less of a concern than that of Gomber, who owns a 6.32 ERA over his last eight starts and has walked 18 batters in 37 innings. Prior to his stint on the IL, Gomber walked just four batters in 55 1/3 frames from May 1 through June 19.

Trending up

The Rockies’ bullpen is much maligned, and for good reason: the unit owns the second-highest ERA and fourth-lowest fWAR in the National League. But aside from a walk-induced blowup from Justin Lawrence early in the finale, Colorado’s relief corps had a great series against the Rangers. In 13 1/3 innings minus Lawrence’s two-thirds of an inning in which he walked three batters and was charged with three runs, the bullpen gave up just one run and struck out 15.

Up next

It’s back to Coors Field for the Rockies, where the team has compiled a 43-22 record to this point. But the task will be tough for Colorado, especially considering its injury and inconsistency problems within the starting rotation. The Atlanta Braves, who lead the NL East, are up first for four games beginning on Thursday before the Wild Card-leading San Francisco Giants arrive on Monday.