Rockies slug their way to series victory over Phillies

Sep 12, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman Garrett Hampson (1) celebrates win against the Philadelphia Phillies with third baseman Colton Welker (4) and second baseman Ryan McMahon (24) at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies’ biggest problem away from Coors Field this season has been a lack of power. They’re slugging a National League-worst .344 on the road and have the second-fewest home runs. But no one would know any of that based on watching the Rockies take three of four from the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark over the weekend.

Colorado mashed eight home runs, including a pair by Garrett Hampson on Sunday, to send the Phillies into the danger zone in the NL East and continue to play quite a role in the league’s playoff race. The Rockies took the series finale, 5-4, backed by a decent bounce-back start from rookie Ryan Feltner, and a three-headed monster in the lineup led by Hampson. Feltner, who last weekend gave up a homer on the first major league pitch he threw, struck out six batters while navigating around four hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. It certainly wasn’t a strong outing, but it was much better than his three-homer debut, and he provided some room for the Rockies’ offense to work. Elias Díaz had a pair of hits and scored twice, and Brendan Rodgers chipped in three knocks. But it was Hampson, who homered twice on 0-2 counts, who did the heavy lifting. The struggling utility player drove in all five of the Rockies’ runs–including three off of Phillies starter Aaron Nola, who struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings.

The Rockies began the series with a ninth-inning rally that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. Ryan McMahon hit a pinch-hit homer to plate himself and Colton Welker, who had his first big league hit and RBI earlier in the game. A batter later, Sam Hilliard gave the Rockies some insurance with an upper-deck blast. Carlos Estévez survived a couple of hits and a run to earn his sixth save.

Such drama wasn’t necessary on Friday, when the Rockies–behind homers from Trevor Story and C.J. Cron and a grand slam off the bat of Díaz–took an 11-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth and emerged with an 11-2 win. Germán Márquez showed a return to form in that contest, holding the Phillies scoreless for six innings while striking out six and issuing just one walk. Colorado’s lone blemish of the series came in a 6-1 loss on Saturday. McMahon had a pair of hits and Story homered in that game, but the Rockies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and Kyle Freeland allowed four runs on five hits and four walks in six innings.

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A good second half for McMahon is starting to become better with each passing week as he continues to rediscover his power stroke. McMahon had only four hits in the series, but three went for extra bases, and he tacked on a couple of walks for good measure. McMahon has appeared in every one of the Rockies’ games over the last two weeks, and during that time he’s posted a .340 OBP while slugging .533. It’s good to see that McMahon, one of the few Rockies players who hasn’t missed a significant chunk of time this season, isn’t wearing down as 2021 comes to a close.

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Raimel Tapia has had a rough go of things since returning from the injured list late last month. He’s hitting just .154/.244/.231 in 45 plate appearances spanning 12 games. Tapia has walked more times than he’s struck out during that stretch, but as has been discussed here before, that doesn’t necessarily lead to good things for such an aggressive hitter. Luck hasn’t been on his side either, though; the 27-year-old outfielder is hitting just .167 on balls in play since Aug. 30, and that number is almost certain to go up with his speed and contact ability.

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The Rockies, now 66-78 overall and 21-51 (but winners of half of their last 12!) on the road, travel south to face the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, against whom Colorado split a series at Coors Field earlier in the month. The Rockies, looking to play spoiler in the NL postseason chase once again, send Jon Gray to the hill in the opener on Tuesday before Antonio Senzatela and Germán Márquez take the mound to round out the series.

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