Rockies get big boost in series split with Mariners

Jul 21, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber (26) looks on from the dugout in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies finished their post-All-Star homestand with a losing record but salvaged a two-game series split against the Seattle Mariners, who entered Coors Field as one of the hottest teams in baseball.

As a result of the tough competition, Colorado ended a homestand under .500 for the first time in two months. But the Rockies also encountered some good news this week with the return of starting pitcher Austin Gomber from the injured list. Gomber, making his first start since June 19, allowed three runs on three hits—all solo homers—in six innings in the Rockies’ 6-3 victory on Wednesday. He did an excellent job limiting baserunners so that the long balls didn’t hurt. Really, Gomber picked up where he left off before the injury; in his previous eight starts, the 27-year-old southpaw yielded 33 hits and only three walks over 44 1/3 innings.

Gomber’s solid outing came at a good time. Germàn Màrquez, a week removed from a scoreless All-Star Game appearance, wasn’t at his best in Game 1 against the Mariners. Márquez threw a much lower percentage of strikes than he had been producing in the two months worth of starts prior to this one, and Seattle made him pay by scoring four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in six innings against the Rockies’ ace.

Màrquez also didn’t get the run support that the Rockies’ offense provided Gomber. A day after going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving eight on base, the Rockies plated five first-inning runs capped by a bases-clearing double off the bat of catcher Dom Nuñez.

Connor Joe hit his first career home run in the losing effort on Tuesday, when he also doubled and threw out a runner who was trying to stretch a single into a double. C.J. Cron added a two-run homer in the opener before drawing a pair of walks on Wednesday. Joe, after his big night in Game 1, did not play in the series finale.

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Daniel Bard has had somewhat of a rollercoaster 2021, but he’s back on the upswing. The veteran right-hander on Wednesday struck out a batter in a perfect ninth inning that resulted in his 15th save of the season. Over his last 8 1/3 innings spanning nine appearances, Bard has allowed just one run on five hits while striking out nine.

Bard’s walk totals, now sitting at just over four batters per nine innings, are still a little high, but he’s striking out batters at a rate of better than 11 per nine innings to make up for it. The Rockies, now at 42-54 overall and with holes all over their lineup, aren’t going to be contending for much this season and Bard is the type of player who could net them a potential impact player for the future if they play their cards right in the trade market. Of all the names likely to come up in the trade rumor mill in the coming days, Bard could be one of the sleepers.

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Trevor Story struck out 10 times during the homestand while going just 3-for-20 with a pair of walks. Story’s name is going to be all over the aforementioned trade rumor mill over the next week or so, but his performance—combined with the Rockies’ apparent insistence on not wanting to deal him anyway—may keep him in a Rockies uniform through the end of the season, when the club can extend a qualifying offer and receive a compensatory draft pick in the highly likely event he declines that offer and enters the free-agent market.

What’s next

The Rockies, now 33-20 at home and 9-34 (but winners of three of their last four!) on the road, leave Coors Field for a season-high 10-game road swing that has them facing three separate postseason contenders starting with a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.