Colorado squan­ders a great ef­fort by start­ing pitcher Ger­man Mar­quez when the star closer fal­ters for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive time.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nick Groke

CLEVE­LAND» The Rock­ies kicked off a 50game sprint to the finish Tues­day from the shores of Lake Erie — and in a peculiar po­si­tion. A club built from the be­gin­ning with bats con­tin­ues to carry its way into con­tention from the mound.

Ger­man Mar­quez, one of a pair of 22year-old Venezue­lan rook­ies in Colorado’s ro­ta­tion, glided into the sev­enth in­ning at Pro­gres­sive Field with jus­ti­fied as­pi­ra­tion. But dur­ing the In­di­ans’ dis­heart­en­ing 4-1 walk-off vic­tory over the Rock­ies, af­ter Mar­quez gave up just two hits, Colorado took a hay­maker to the chin.

Yan Gomes’ three-run homer off Colorado closer Greg Hol­land with two outs in the ninth in­ning, on a first-pitch fast­ball, quickly shifted the Rock­ies from what would have been per­haps their best vic­tory of the sea­son to one of the most painful.

“It’s a tough one,” Rock­ies sec­ond base­man DJ LeMahieu said. “But I’d take that sit­u­a­tion ev­ery time with ‘Hol­lie.’ Even with run­ners on, I’d take it ev­ery day. They just got a cou­ple big swings at the end.”

Austin Jack­son’s blooper, also with two outs in the ninth, about a foot be­yond the reach of cen­ter fielder Char­lie Black­mon’s div­ing at­tempt to end the game in Colorado’s fa­vor, tied the game at 1, one bat­ter be­fore Gomes’ first-pitch walk-off.

And Hol­land, the ma­jor-league saves leader and an all-star in his first sea­son since Tommy John surgery scut­tled a ca­reer in Kansas City, blew a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive save op­por­tu­nity in three days. On Sun­day, the Philadel­phia Phillies ral­lied in the ninth for a 3-2 vic­tory at Coors Field.

“It’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing, the way we bat­tled,” LeMahieu said. “But we’ve got a good team and a lot of con­fi­dence.”

Black­mon’s game-start­ing home run, a rain­bow looper to the cen­ter-field seats, car­ried the Rock­ies for eight in­nings. Black­mon’s 100th ca­reer homer, his 26th this sea­son, came on the sec­ond pitch of the game, a 90 mph sinker­ball from Cleve­land all-star Corey Klu­ber.

The Rock­ies are 49-17 this sea­son when they score the game’s first run. Cleve­land is 17-32 when giv­ing it up. But be­tween the first bat­ter and the last, a pitcher’s duel un­folded pit­ting the rookie Mar­quez and the mae­stro Klu­ber.

“That guy (Black­mon) hits a home run to lead off the game, you don’t think that that’s go­ing to stand up,” Cleve­land man­ager Terry Fran­cona said. “The way their guy was pitch­ing, it about did.”

Klu­ber, the AL Cy Young Award win­ner

in 2014, cruised through eight in­nings on just three hits. And when Klu­ber struck out Mark Reynolds on a wicked curve­ball to end the sev­enth in­ning, he be­came just the third pitcher with at least eight strike­outs in 13 con­sec­u­tive games, af­ter Randy Johnson and Pe­dro Martinez.

“That is a throw­back game for sure,” Colorado man­ager Bud Black said while rav­ing about Klu­ber, who went the dis­tance and struck out 11, while walk­ing none.

But Colorado, with four rookie start­ing pitch­ers still ex­celling well into Au­gust, can re­tort. Mar- quez has car­ried the Rock­ies as an ace would for over a month, with six con­sec­u­tive qual­ity starts, in­clud­ing four vic­to­ries. Since Mar­quez el­bowed his way to the core of a benches-clear­ing con­fronta­tion against the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates on June 22 at Coors Field, he has a 2.42 ERA, with seven earned runs in 26 in­nings.

Mar­quez pitched per­fectly his first time through Cleve­land’s lineup, forc­ing five ground­outs to Nolan Are­nado at third base while also strik­ing out slug­ger Ed­win En­car­na­cion, Bradley Zim­mer and Austin Jack­son. Fran­cisco Lin­dor dou­bled off Mar­quez for Cleve­land’s first hit in the fourth in­ning, but two oth­ers grounded out weakly to DJ LeMahieu at first to strand him.

“It was a chance for me to face one of the best pitch­ers in the game,” Mar­quez said. “I had to step up.”

In the sixth in­ning, Mar­quez tossed six con­sec­u­tive pitches out­side the strike zone and walked Ja­son Kip­nis and Lin­dor with one out. But Rock­ies first base­man Mark Reynolds dived them out of the in­ning. He ranged to left to rob a screamer down the line from Abra­ham Al­monte, but his dive back to first try­ing to dou­ble off Lin­dor was just late. And when Jose Ramirez ground a ball off Mar­quez’s glove, Reynolds scooped it up and dived to tag him out slid­ing to first.

A strange play saved the Rock­ies in the sev­enth in­ning af­ter lefty long man Chris Rusin re­lieved the rookie. An in­field popup fell into the grass near the mound, a mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Rusin and Are­nado. But Are­nado quickly fired to sec­ond to start a dou­ble play as Brantley lagged run­ning to first.

Klu­ber con­tin­ued to the end, strik­ing out the side in the ninth against Story, Black­mon and LeMahieu. But Black­mon’s homer, the one that car­ried in the Cuya­hoga County air and car­ried Colorado to the ninth, fell two bat­ters shy of car­ry­ing them to vic­tory.

“All the guys in the room have suf­fered tough losses and bounced back the next day,” Black said.

Tony De­jak, The Associated Press

Cleve­land In­di­ans catcher Yan Gomes, cen­ter, is mobbed by team­mates af­ter hit­ting a three-run, walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth in­ning Tues­day night at Pro­gres­sive Field to de­feat the Rock­ies 4-1.

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