Phillies stun Rocks with two-run ninth
What could possibly go wrong? The Rockies were 59-0 when leading after eight innings this season. They were 14-6 in one-run games, including a trio of one-run victories on the current homestand. And Greg Holland? The allstar closer was 34-1 in save opportunities.
Now he’s 34-2 after the Rockies lost 3-2 to Philadelphia at Coors Field on Sunday, blowing a chance to sweep the Phillies and gain some wiggle room in the National League wild-card playoff race.
“I was one quality pitch from getting out of that and us getting the win, and I kind of rolled one in there,” Holland said. “So I don’t think it was just ‘one of those days.’ I think I could have pitched around some traffic, and I made an untimely pitch and it cost us.”
The pitch in question was a first-pitch, 87 mph slider that Cameron Rupp ripped for a tworun double to left-center. Holland, uncharacteristically, was charged with two runs on three hits.
The stage seemed set for Colorado’s fourth consecutive victory. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who played with a 24-karat glove all afternoon, had just thrown out Odubel Herrera at the plate for the first out, and it looked like the Rockies would find a way to escape with a 2-1 victory.
Except they didn’t. That fact dampened the mood of the team
as it prepared to fly to Cleveland on Sunday night. The Rockies open a two-game series against the defending champion American League champion Indians on Tuesday.
Arizona and Milwaukee both lost Sunday, but the Rockies failed to gain new turf in the wild-card battle. The Rockies (64-48) remained a half game in front of the Diamondbacks and 5K games in front of the Brewers.
The loss, surely one of the most bitter of the Rockies’ season, wasted an excellent start from rookie Jeff Hoffman, who pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts vs. one walk.
“He pitched great,” manager Bud Black said. “I thought he got stronger as the game went on. He located the fastball. When he was down (in the zone), he was really good. He had a nice hook, and he got some outs with his changeup.”
Colorado also lost despite a series of highlight-reel plays.
In the eighth, Rupp singled off right-handed reliever Pat Neshek, a former Phillies allstar. Then pinch-hitter Andres Blanco sliced a hit into the extreme left-field corner, where it eluded a diving Gerardo Parra. But Parra recovered and threw a strike to Story, who delivered a bullet to catcher Ryan Hanigan. Replay reviews showed that Hanigan tagged Rupp out — but just barely.
The drama didn’t end there. Mike Dunn came into the game and walked two to load the bases with two outs. But the left-hander induced Nick Willliams to a groundout to Alexi Amarista at second. Dunn pounded his glove with his fist in celebration. It turned out to be premature.
Colorado’s defense glittered throughout the game: Carlos Gonzalez made a diving grab in right field for the final out in the third; Story and first baseman Mark Reynolds combined for two “field, throw and stretch” plays, as well as a first-to-shortto-first double play; and third baseman Nolan Arenado snagged a foul ball against the wall in the seventh.
Asked if winning a Gold Glove was a personal goal, Story said: “It would be cool, but I’m not the accolade kind of guy. I like to work hard at my craft, and defense is a huge part of that.”
Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon produced a go-ahead run in the seventh inning, driving in pinchhitter Raimel Tapia, who drew a hard-earned walk. Blackmon, how hitting .331, was one of the few hitters to thrive Sunday, going 3-for-5 with three doubles.
The Rockies struck first and struck quickly against Philadelphia’s talented young righthander, Aaron Nola. Blackmon led off the first with a double and scored on Arenado’s broken-bat, bloop single to right to take a 1-0 lead. From that point on, however, Nolan was mostly nails. He pitched seven innings of six-hit ball, giving up two runs, on six hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
The Phillies struck back in the second on Maikel Franco’s oneout, solo homer to left in the second inning. Two batters later, Rupp blasted a double to center, and it looked as if Hoffman might be in trouble. But he struck out Nola to end the inning and began dominating the Phillies.
Rockies closer Greg Holland walks to the dugout after giving up two runs in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.