Rockies finish road trip 7-2 after series win vs. Nationals

Sep 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers (7) celebrates with Colorado Rockies center baseman Garrett Hampson (1) after hitting a two run home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

On July 8, the Colorado Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-3, to improve their 2021 road record to 7-33. At the time, the Rockies were near a pace that would’ve had them finishing with the worst road record in major league history.

You’d never know it now.

The Rockies capped off a 7-2 road trip that includes three series victories by taking a three-game set against the Washington Nationals over the weekend. Colorado scored 15 runs en route to wins on Friday and Saturday. The Rox overcame a rough start from ace Germán Márquez, who allowed six runs on eight hits and recorded just one strikeout in four innings, in the opener by hitting three homers. Colorado trailed 6-2 when Brendan Rodgers hit a two-run shot off of Nats starter Josiah Gray in the fifth inning. An inning later, after the Rockies tacked on another run to get to within 6-5, Sam Hilliard crushed a two-run homer of his own down the right field line to put the Rockies on top. The Rockies’ bullpen coughed up the lead but Elias Díaz answered with a game-tying blast in the ninth before Rodgers put Colorado ahead for good with an RBI single later in the inning.

Colorado was dominant the next night on its way to clinching the series victory. Kyle Freeland tossed six scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven. Rodgers was strong again at the plate, falling a triple short of the cycle and knocking in a pair of runs. Trevor Story delivered the big blow, hitting a three-run homer in the fourth to give the Rockies a 6-0 lead that held through the remainder of the game.

The Rockies failed to secure a sweep by virtue of losing the finale, 3-0. Colorado managed just five hits, two of which were doubles off the bat of Charlie Blackmon on which the club was unable to capitalize. Jon Gray was yanked after four innings, during which he allowed a pair of runs on three hits and struck out five. The Rockies struck out 12 times.

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The Rockies’ starting rotation was the strength of the team through a good chunk of the season, but the offense deserves a bunch of credit for turning a corner over the last month or so. At one point this season, Colorado didn’t have a single hitter with an OPS higher than .800 and, as recently as early August, no one on the club was slugging .500 or bettter, something that has never happened over the course of a full season in franchise history.

Fortunately for the Rockies, C.J. Cron went nuclear in August and is now slugging .520, and Brendan Rodgers and Trevor Story have both surpassed the .800 OPS mark. Story has hit .267/.349/.587 over 169 plate appearances since that aforementioned point in early August, while Cron, Rodgers, Elias Diaz, Connor Joe have all managed an OPS greater than .800 during the same time frame.

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Cron has somehow found himself on both lists because when narrowing down his performance to the Rockies’ recent successful road trip, his numbers aren’t very good. Cron hit just .161/.229/.290 in nine games on the trip, striking out nine times in 22 plate appearances. He was entitled to a slump after his world-beating August, and his teammates have been there to pick him up. But it’s been a rough go for Cron, who will hopefully rediscover his swing during the Rockies’ upcoming nine-game home stand.

Up next

The Rockies will see these Nationals, as well as the playoff-bound Dodgers and Giants, during their final home stand of the season, which starts on Tuesday against Los Angeles. Antonio Senzatela takes the hill opposite Julio Urias, who–forgive me for using pitcher wins–is 18-3 with a sub-3.00 ERA this season. Colorado will also send Márquez and Freeland to the hill in the series, but they’re tasked with facing two of the other best pitchers in the NL in Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer.