The Colorado Rockies opened the season on the road (of course) and split a four-game set with the Miami Marlins.
Can we just take a moment to comment on the curiosity that the Colorado Rockies open most seasons on the road? It’s not just something that seems disproportionate, it is disproportionate. Colorado has opened on the road in 20 of their 27 seasons in Denver. We understand that Denver being in the middle of the country can sometimes create travel and scheduling headaches but come on.
Anyway, the Rockies opened a 2019 season full of expectations with a mixed bag of results in Miami. They opened with a 6-3 win on Thursday with Kyle Freeland taking the opening day starter spot. He didn’t disappoint, giving Bud Black 7 innings of one-run baseball that included 5 strikeouts. The lone run surrendered by Freeland came from the bat of Miami pinch hitter JT Riddle. Freeland picks up right where he left off. Offensively, good games from David Dahl and Chris Ianetta paced the Rockies and the 4-through-8 hitters provided all of the punch, driving in 5 Rockies runs. Conspicuous were Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy combining for an oh-fer from the plate. Tough run from your one and two hitters. Still, the Rockies won and looked good doing it, it was good to see Freeland transition smoothly.
Friday saw another six-run explosion and a surge from the top of the order with Blackmon getting three hits, Nolan Arenado two and Trevor Story and Daniel Murphy with a hit a piece. German Marquez took the bump for Colorado and was outstanding, spreading two hits and seven strikeouts over six innings of work. The Marlins managed only one run, a Curtis Granderson solo shot. In all, the Rockies banged out 11 hits, with Tony Wolters continuing the strong start at the catcher position. The Rox, at 2-0 looked justified in all the preseason expectations.
Then, Saturday dropped some reality on Colorado. Tyler Anderson struggled, surrendering nine hits and five earned runs in just five innings. Old offensive woes surfaced as the Rockies stranded six, unable to come up with timely hitting to match the Marlins’ pace. Two-strikeout games from Arenado, Garrett Hampson, Trevor Story, Ryan McMahon, David Dahl and Ian Desmond accounted for all six of the stranded baserunners. Reminiscent of the offensive flame-out against Milwaukee in last season’s playoffs, the Rockies disappeared when it mattered. Still, just one game.
Sunday would serve as confirmation with Colorado scoring zero runs and scratching out just five hits. A waste of a fine Jon Grey performance (6.2IP, 3 ER, 10 K) as the Rockies couldn’t solve Marlins starter Sandy Alcantra who struck out six and spread four hits over eight innings.
In all, a split on the road isn’t really a bad thing and the Rockies have a long road ahead but it makes us nervous, seeing the lack of offense that plagued Colorado down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. We’ve touched on what we think Arenado’s new contract means in terms of expectations. We know what we should get, by way of production from Blackmon and Story. We should see improvement or consistency from young guys like Hampson and McMahon. There’s no good reason the Rockies disappear, offensively.
With three in Tampa Bay before the Rockies get to their home opener, there’s little time to figure it out.