Rockies’ bullpen implodes as Reds split four-game series at Coors Field – The Denver Post
With a fine, seven-inning performance from starter Antonio Senzatela, the white-hot bat of Josh Fuentes and a 6-1 lead heading into the eighth inning, what could possibly go wrong for the Rockies?
Why, a meltdown by their flammable bullpen, of course. A bullpen, by the way, that currently owns a 5.84 ERA, by far the worst in the National League.
“We talk about not beating ourselves, and (today), late in the game, we beat ourselves on the mound,” manager Bud Black said. “That’s something we’ve preached not to happen.”
Cincinnati took advantage of a combined four walks, two hit batters, five singles given up, and a wild pitch by Colorado relievers to score four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to stun the Rockies, 7-6, Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
Ultimately, the Reds scored the winning run when Nick Senzel scored on Jordan Sheffield’s wild pitch in the ninth.
The Reds’ four-run rally in the eighth turned what had looked like a walk in the ballpark into a gut-churner. The Reds sent nine batters to the plate — the key hit a two-run, bases-loaded single by Tyler Naquin. Had it not been for a circus catch by Yonathan Daza on Senzel’s line drive to right, things could have been worse.
Black had to use three relievers in the eighth: Yency Almonte (three runs, two walks, one-third inning), Justin Lawrence (one run, three hits, one-third inning) and Tyler Kinley. Kinley put an end to that particular drama when pinch-hitter Jesse Winker flew out to Garrett Hampson in deep center field. But wait, there was more carnage on the way.
The Reds won the game in the ninth against right-hander Mychal Givens, who surrendered two runs on two hits and two walks, and plunked Jonathan India to open the inning. Also, catcher Dom Nunez was charged with a passed ball, allowing Tucker Barnhart to score and Senzel to advance to third.
“Leadoff walks will come back to haunt you,” Black said. “It can’t happen, it really can’t. Whether the pitchers are trying to be too fine, I don’t know. We have had this conversation before, over many, many years in this game.
“We need to be better strike throwers. We need to be able to throw strikes when we need to, on a full count, on 2-0. You hear me talk about pitching principles, there are a number of guys who are not adhering to that. And we’ve got to get to that.”
Instead of winning the four-game series, Colorado had to settle for a split and a 3-4 homestand. Up next is a three-game test at San Diego beginning Monday night. The Rockies own a 2-14 record away from Coors Field, so the immediate future doesn’t look bright.
Senzatela allowed just four hits, struck out two and walked one. He got a chest bump from Black in the Rockies’ dugout after setting the Reds down in order in the seventh.
” ‘Senza’ gave us a great game,” Black said.
Still, despite a rotation that posted a 2.70 ERA during the homestand, the Rockies lost another game.
“It was a tough day for us because we thought we had that game,” Senzatela said. “I think we just keep going. It’s a long season. We just need to keep going and try to win the ballgame tomorrow.”
A number of Colorado hitters got hot on the homestand, but none sizzled like Fuentes. Over his past five games, he hit 11-for-22, with two home runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs.
The Reds started Jeff Hoffman, the former Rockies right-hander who was the centerpiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade way back in 2015. The Rockies dealt him to Cincinnati last November in a deal that brought reliever Robert Stephenson to Colorado.
When Hoffman pitched for the Rockies there was often one inning that derailed him. It happened again Sunday in the fifth. Colorado scored five runs and Hoffman’s throwing error to first on Senzatela’s sacrifice bunt added fuel to the rally.
The big hits were Fuentes’ two-run double to left and an RBI double to center by Connor Joe. Plus, Nunez almost hit a two-run homer to right but it was ruled a foul ball after a video review.
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