Lineup still unloaded
Rockies aren’t hitting their stride, going just 3-12 over past 15 games
On a hot, hazy Thursday afternoon in LoDo, the Rockies’ struggling offense took a siesta. When the wake-up call finally came, it was too late.
And so the Rockies lost 6-3 to a Cincinnati team that entered the game having lost 16 of its last 19 road games, but left Denver with a split of the four-game series.
“It would help if we got a key hit at a big time, but I think that, overall, we have a number of guys who are not (hitting) right now,” manager Bud Black said, trying to explain Colorado’s protracted slump. “Whether they are not seeing the ball, or their timing is off, they are just not in a good spot. That’s what I’m seeing.”
Colorado (50-38) lost for the 12th time in the last 15 games. The Rockies have become a shadow of the team that was 47-26 and owned first place in the National League West on June 20. During the current 15-game stretch, the Rockies have hit only .226.
Actually, the Rockies’ summer drought goes back even further. Since June 17, the Rockies are averaging 3.6 runs per game and have scored seven runs or less in 18 consecutive games. They rank 10th in the National League with 98 home runs. For a team that plays its home games at 5,280 feet and was supposed to be an offensive powerhouse, that’s a big disappointment.
“It seems like when you are going through a tough time, it’s contagious,” said right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who’s hitting .217 with six homers and 22 RBIs as he tries to fight through the worst slump of his all-star career. “We have a good team and I know we are going to come out of this.”
Cincinnati rookie right-hander Sal Romano, making just his second big-league start, pitched five innings, allowing two runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. He notched his first victory.
“He had a good angle on his fastball and that kept us off balance,” said Pat Valaika, who started at third base because Black decided to give all-star Nolan Arenado a breather.
The Rockies made some noise in the eighth inning on a double by Raimel Tapia and a sacrifice fly by DJ LeMahieu, but after Charlie Blackmon singled, stole second and moved to third on an error, Gonzalez struck out to finish his
frustrating 0-for-4 day.
The Rockies wasted a reasonably good start from right-hander Tyler Chatwood.
“Chatty had to battle a little bit, but he got through it,” Black said. “He got a couple of big doubleplay balls and in a grinding fashion, he got through six innings. In a lot of cases, that’s good enough to get a win, or put us in a position to win.”
It’s no secret that Coors Field has been a haunted home field for Chatwood. He entered Thursday’s game 2-4 with a 6.39 ERA in seven starts here. Though he certainly didn’t shut down the Reds on Thursday, giving up three runs on eight hits and four walks, Chatwood battled.
“I felt like I threw the ball well,” Chatwood said. “A couple of those walks came after check swings they didn’t call (as strikeouts), so overall I felt good. I gave us a chance to win.”
Chatwood faced trouble right off the game’s first at-bat. Billy Hamilton roped a triple to right field and scored on Joey Votto’s single up the middle. Chatwood escaped the inning by inducing Eugenio Suarez into a groundout double play. It was the first of a number of buckle-down outs Chatwood used to escape trouble.
He struck out Hamilton to end the second with two men on base, then got double plays in the third and fourth to short-circuit Cincinnati rallies.
“When I’m throwing well, my ball is down in the zone and I’m getting groundballs,” Chatwood said.
Cincinnati extended its lead to 3-1 in the fifth on a Scooter Gennett leadoff walk followed by Adam Duvall’s double off the right-center field wall.
Colorado, often lacking timely hits during its recent slide, finally received one from Tony Wolters in the fifth. He doubled home Trevor Story, cutting the Reds’ lead to 3-2.
Story, who broke an 0-for-8 streak by going 2-for-4, drove in Colorado’s first run in the second inning, scoring Mark Reynolds with a single to left.
Rockies star Carlos Gonzalez reacts to striking out for the final out of the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against the Reds, stranding Charlie Blackmon at third base.
Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood cools off in the Rockies’ dugout during the third inning of Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. Chatwood lasted six innings. The game-time temperature was 91 degrees.
Mark Reynolds scores a second-inning run for the Rockies on Thursday, coming home on Trevor Story’s two-out single to center field. Reynolds scored from second base.