Rockies split series they probably should have swept

May 16, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Josh Fuentes (8) reacts to his double in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies, after scoring 22 runs over the first two games of their four-game set against the Cincinnati Reds, looked like they were well on their way to a series victory.

But then, the weekend happened.

The Rockies, plagued by an inability to come up with big hits on Saturday and a major bullpen meltdown on Sunday, had to settle for a split with the Reds. Colorado left Garrett Hampson stranded on third after a leadoff triple in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 2-2 tie on Saturday. The game eventually reached extra innings, and with the score still tied in the bottom of the 10th, Hampson was again left at third with just one out.

After Antonio Senzatela exited with a 6-1 lead following seven strong innings in the series finale, embattled relievers Yency Almonte and Justin Lawrence combined to allow four runs in the eighth. Mychal Givens followed by allowing a pair of runs on just one hit in the ninth. Givens issued two walks, hit a batter, and was hurt by a passed ball charged to catcher Dom Nuñez. The go-ahead score, charged to Givens, came when Jordan Sheffield uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded later in the inning.

The weekend outcomes spoiled a great start to the series for the Rockies. Colorado won on Thursday, 13-8, though the Reds made it closer than it should have been by scoring eight runs in the eighth inning. The Rockies followed with a 9-6 victory on Friday thanks to several big offensive performances and a decent start from Germán Márquez.

What went right

Yonathan Daza quietly had a monster series. Josh Fuentes got a lot of the accolades, and deservedly so, given the fact that he homered and drove in 10 runs while coming out of an extended rut. But Daza finished the four-game set 10-for-17, raising his season batting line to .347/.370/.432.

Not counting Jhoulys Chacin’s spot start, the Rockies’ starting rotation performed well throughout the series. Chi Chi Gonzalez had his best outing of the season on Thursday, tossing seven scoreless innings. The aforementioned Márquez struck out eight in six innings on Friday, though he allowed four runs and issued three walks, which is still too many. And Senzatela gave the Rockies more than enough to win the finale. The Rockies’ rotation has already had an up-and-down season; the unit has the third-highest ERA in baseball, and that’s largely because they can’t keep runners off the bases. But the talent is there to do better.

What went wrong

Colorado’s bullpen allowed 18 earned runs in the series, including eight on Thursday and six on Sunday. Yency Almonte, who recently had a short stint on the injured list while trying to get his delivery right, was perhaps the worst offender. The 26-year-old righty is only a year removed from posting a 2.93 ERA with just six walks in 27 2/3 innings, but he’s gone off the rails completely in 2021. Almonte, after allowing five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Reds, owns an unsightly 11.77 ERA with as many walks (10) as strikeouts.

What’s next

The Rockies travel to face the red-hot San Diego Padres, who swept the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend and have won 7 of their last 10 overall. Colorado will face Yu Darvish on Monday before seeing Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove to close out the series. The Rockies are just 2-14 on the road and have posted an NL-worst .610 OPS away from Coors Field. By comparison, the Padres have a 2.67 ERA at home, which ranks third in baseball.