On yet another beautiful day in Denver, the Rockies took the third-straight game from the Dodgers to win the series and stay in the NL West race.
I was going to recap the whole series and talk about rookie Ryan McMahon’s spectacular weekend versus the Dodgers. The Rockies rookie, playing in place of the injured Nolan Arenado had a seventh inning home-run on Friday to push the Rockies to victory. Even more impressive was McMahon’s 3-run bottom-of-the-ninth walk-off blast on Saturday. It’s been covered extensively, notably here from our friends at RoxPile.
Match it they did, though and I’m going to focus on my personal experience, as I was at Sunday’s game. In fact, if you could focus the crowd behind Charlie Blackmon in the above photo, you’d see my group (I’m not saying which group we are).
It was a spectacular August day, maybe a little on the hot side but not terribly uncomfortable. We took the light rail in from South Denver and enjoyed the walk from Union Station. I always marvel at the pedal-cab purveyors around the stadiums, that’s a hell of a job for $8 per ride.
We were seated not too far behind the Rockies dugout, surrounded by all the sounds and smells that are unique to the ballpark experience. Baseball can be a chore, from a spectator standpoint but there is little more enjoyable than being at the ballpark. One of my crew is from Missouri and had only been to one baseball game in his life. A Royals contest he barely remembers. There’s something endearing about watching someone experience something for the first time and the spectacle of Coors Field is definitely an experience. My other two compadres were my father and my son.
A truly lovely and fulfilling day.
Chad Bettis took the mound and immediately gave up a hit to Dodgers second-baseman Brian Dozier. From there, though, Bettis was on-target, surrendering only two more hits over a scoreless six-innings of work. Bettis mixed his pitches well, hitting the low-90’s with his four-seam fastball and mixing it up with pinpoint curveballs. He worked out of trouble twice, once with an odd 4-5-3 double play. With Arenado out of the lineup, the infield shift often had Pat Valaika on the grass behind second while Story stayed at his traditional spot. Jake McGee would come on in relief of Bettis and lasted two batters, striking-out Max Muncy before surrendering a double to Justin Turner. Scott Oberg was up next and Brian Dozier made the Rox pay with a RBI single.
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A familiar wave came over the Rockies faithful, watching the wheels come off when the relievers come in has become a rite of passage for fans. Adam Ottavino took the mound to start the 8th and gave up back-to-back singles to Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger. Matt Kemp followed with a sacrifice fly before Ottavino settled in and closed the inning. Not before the Dodgers pulled even with Colorado at 3, though.
The Rockies half of the eighth inning saw weak groundouts from Gerardo Parra, Arenado and Blackmon, setting up another opportunity for ninth-inning heroics. Wade Davis was overpowering in his stint in the ninth and the Rockies would bring the meat of their order to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. DJ Lemahieu led off with a shot to Dodgers Right fielder Puig, who bobbled the scoop and let DJ take second. Trevor story followed with a bad strikeout. The Dodgers chose to walk David Dahl as they had first open. Ian Desmond grounded to third and the Rockies are lucky it wasn’t a double-play. DJ moved up to third, Dahl to second and weekend hero Ryan McMahon strode to the plate like a modern-day Casey-at-the-bat. LA manager Dave Roberts, possibly having seen enough of McMahon chose to walk him. Bases loaded, one out, Chris Ianetta up. Dodgers closer Dylan Floro walked Ianetta, scoring LeMahieu and giving the Rockies their second-straight walk-off win over the Dodgers. The intentional walk is always a gamble, this one bit the Dodgers.
The series win was a satisfying one, Coors had a pretty large Dodger contingent. It also brought Colorado within a game-and-a-half of division leading Arizona (who smoked the Reds) and half-a-game of the Dodgers. The Rockies manage to stay afloat despite incredibly dismal RISP numbers.
It had been a while since I’d been to Coors and the day was magical. It was even better getting to share it with my Dad, who knows the Rockies inside and out and my son, who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.
Amid Broncos preseason and the electric excitement of the upcoming Nuggets season, it was nice to be reminded why baseball remains in our hearts.