Rockies’ rally falters in walk-off
ST. LOUIS» This was the kind of game the Rockies were winning early in the season.
Now, with their playoff chances so real, but still so far away, the clutch victories are harder to come by. Case in point: Their gutpunch, walk-off, 3-2 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader, called up for the injured Dexter Fowler and making his big-league debut, led off the Cardinals ninth with a double to left off Jake McGee. It was Bader’s first hit. He advanced to third on Greg Garcia’s sacrifice bunt.
The Cardinals won the game on pinch hitter Jedd Gyorko’s sacrifice fly to Carlos Gonzalez in shallow right field. Gonzalez loaded up his throw, but catcher Ryan Hanigan couldn’t quite handle it and Bader slid home with the winning run.
“With speed, you can bet they are probably going to go,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “They took a chance with a guy with speed (Bader) on a shallow flyball. The throw beat him. It was just a very tough hop for Ryan.”
Back-to-back, two-out singles by Mark Reynolds and Gonzalez put the Rockies on the cusp of victory in the top of the ninth, but
St. Louis reliever Trevor Rosenthal caught Story looking at a 84 mph slider for strike three and out No. 3.
Story, who’s slowly regaining a semblance of his 2016 rookie form, tied the game 2-2 in the eighth, launching a leadoff homer deep into the left field seats off reliever Matt Bowman. Story entered the game having hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games at a .333 clip.
Colorado’s defeat included an injury to Ian Desmond. He started at first base but did not come out for the bottom of the fourth inning after reinjuring the right calf that landed him on the disabled list earlier this month.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn spun a web around Rockies hitters for his first six innings, allowing just two hits — a double by Gerardo Parra in the second and a harmless single by Hanigan in the sixth.
Colorado finally broke Lynn’s spell in the seventh. DJ LeMahieu drew his second walk of the game and Nolan Arenado drove a double into the left-field corner. Arenado’s major league-best 32nd double set the table for Parra’s sacrifice fly off reliever Kevin Siegrist.
Siegrist walked Reynolds, but the potential big inning died when Gonzalez grounded into a double play.
Rockies starter Jon Gray did his part, even if he only got to do it for five innings. With his pitch count running high and the Rockies in dire need of offense, he was lifted for pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista.
Gray made one major mistake, and it was costly. After Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter led off the first with a single, Paul DeJong cranked a two-run homer to left, his 15th of the season. DeJong clobbered Gray’s first-pitch, 97 mph fastball.
“He battled,” Black said of Gray. “The pitch to Carpenter was up, to start the game. The ball they hit the home run was not located. It was sort of middle-in. That happens when a guy is swinging well. And it’s costly in a game like this with a pitcher like (Lance) Lynn, who is a very solid major-league pitcher.”
“It surprised me,” Gray said of giving up the home run to DeJong. “I was just trying to get ahead. It could have been a better pitch -low and away. It happened. I had to kick it to the side and keep going.”
Gray settled down after that and was able to work through the traffic created by St. Louis’ eight hits off him. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. True, he needed 96 pitches (63) strikes in his five innings, but he delivered big pitches when he had to.
In the fourth, singles by Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong put two Cardinals on with nobody out. But Gray whiffed Bader, Greg Garcia and Lynn. One-out singles by Tommy Pham and DeJong had Gray in trouble again in the fifth, but he induced Randal Grichuk into an inning-ending double play.
Ian Desmond played the first three innings but did not come out to play first base in the bottom of the fourth. Rockies manager Bud Black told the MLB Network, which was covering the game, that Desmond hurt his calf again.
“Ian reinjured his calf, it looks like,” Black said after making the move with the Cardinals leading the Rockies 2-0. “Not sure when he did it, but just moments ago he said he reinjured it, so for precautionary reasons we took him out.”
St. Louis’ Harrison Bader, left, and Matt Carpenter celebrate Tuesday night after Bader scored to end the game.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Harrison Bader arrives at first base on a groundout in his first major-league at-bat as Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond handles the throw during the second inning Tuesday night.