The Rockies are back out on the road, and you know what that means

Aug 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel (18) scores against the Colorado Rockies during the eight inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies lost another road series, this time to the reeling Chicago Cubs after splitting a doubleheader on Wednesday.

The Cubs entered the series opener on Monday losers of 13 consecutive home games before getting the best of the Road Rockies in an extremely “stoppable force vs. movable object” matchup. Colorado’s bullpen squandered a strong start from Antonio Senzatela, who allowed just one run in six innings of work. But reliever Jhoulys Chacin couldn’t find the strike zone and it led to a three-run eighth for the Cubs, who entered the inning trailing 4-1. Daniel Bard served up a two-run, walk-off homer to former Rockie Rafael Ortega the following inning to send the Chicago faithful home happy for the first time in a long time.

After a postponement due to inclement weather on Tuesday, the Cubs took Game 1 of the twinbill Wednesday by scoring five times against Rockies starter Austin Gomber, who failed to get through the fifth inning. Gomber continues to struggle since returning from the injured list last month, posting a 6.06 ERA in seven starts during that stretch. The Rockies’ offense mustered just three hits, one of which was a solo shot off the bat of C.J. Cron, against Zach Davies and the Cubs.

The Rockies avoided the sweep in the nightcap thanks to a tiebreaking two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning from Ryan McMahon, who entered the game with just two dingers since the middle of June. The offensive outburst, which also included a grand slam from Connor Joe and a two-run homer off the bat of Brendan Rodgers, helped the Rockies win 13-10 and make up for a poor start from Germán Márquez. The staff ace gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings and owns a 5.97 ERA since the All-Star break.

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Gomber, Márquez, and Jon Gray have spent a large portion of the season as one of the better starting pitching trios in all of baseball, but that certainly hasn’t been the case throughout the month of August. It’s unfortunate that the scuffling is happening when Senzatela (3.80 ERA) and Kyle Freeland (3.52 ERA) are hitting their stride; in addition to the poor run prevention numbers for Gomber and Márquez listed above, Gray owns a 6.75 ERA this month.

The Rockies’ rotation is still, without question, the strength of the team. But the unit has a long way to go in the areas of consistency and, to varying degrees, durability.

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Rodgers had a tough start to the series, going 0-for-4 in the opener. But he collected four hits and drove in six runs during the doubleheader, continuing to show a prowess for hitting on the road–something the Rockies desperately need. Rodgers now owns a .280/.343/.520 line (.860 OPS) with eight home runs in 137 plate appearances away from Coors Field. Only two other position players on the roster–Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon–have an OPS of even .700 in road games.

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The Rockies, now 15-47 on the road and 58-69 overall, travel west to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in three-game set at Dodger Stadium. Kyle Freeland, who finished the nightcap on Wednesday in right field after the Rockies ran out of position players, will take the mound in the series opener. Colorado will send Gray and Senzatela to the hill for the weekend contests before finishing up the road trip in Texas early next week.