Rockies’ Ryan Feltner exits after taking line drive to head in loss to Phillies

A scary scene in the second inning of the Rockies’ matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies caused Coors Field to go silent Saturday night.

Down 4-0, Rockies starting pitcher Ryan Feltner’s slider to Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos was lasered up the middle and hit Feltner in the head, causing him to drop to the ground. Surrounded by coaches and trainers, he laid on the ground for an extended period. A loud ovation broke through the silence when he rose to his feet and walked off the field.

Reliever Peter Lambert stepped in, keeping the Phillies scoreless for 3 1/3 innings while the Rockies’ bats generated three runs in two innings. But as the night got colder, so did the Rockies in a 7-4 loss.

In the second month of the 2023 season, the Rockies’ starting rotation has been hit hard with injuries. Pitcher Antonio Senzatela was placed on the 15-day injured list on Friday due to an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right elbow. Although the Rockies avoided the worst-case scenario with Senzatela’s elbow, the news came after opening day starter German Marquez announced he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then Feltner went down Saturday night.

Manager Bud Black said after the game that Feltner had been taken to a nearby hospital for observation. He’s expected to stay overnight, Black said.

“(Feltner) is undergoing a litany of tests,” Black said. “We’ll know more in the morning.”

With uncertainty surrounding Feltner’s injury, Lambert said the team is simply hoping for the best.

“It’s not much you can do in this situation other than keep him in your thoughts,” said Lambert. “We really don’t know much.”

Lambert and the rest of the relievers did a solid job containing the Phillies until the eighth inning. That’s when Catcher Garrett Stubbs followed Kody Clemens’ two-out double with an RBI single that gave Philadelphia a 5-3 advantage.

The Rockies once again cut the deficit to one in the bottom part of the eighth before Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper showed why he is one of the best players in the sport. With no outs and a runner at first in the ninth, Harper launched a two-run home run to right field, solidifying the Rockies’ second-straight loss.

“Players like Bryce is what makes this game great,” Black said. “You try the best you can to work around (him). But at times, (moments) come up and there he is.”

Before Feltner’s exit, he looked uneasy on the mound. He didn’t have control of his off-speed, walking shortstop Trea Turner and Harper before Castellanos’ RBI-single gave Philadelphia a 1-0 advantage in the first inning. After left fielder Kyle Schwarber walked on five pitches, third baseman Alec Bohm was all over a sinker for a two-run single. By time Feltner got out of the jam, he had already given up four runs and four walks on 40 pitches.

After Harper’s two-out double in the second inning, Feltner took a 92.7 mile per hour comebacker to the head, causing his night to end after 1 2/3 innings. Lambert stepped in and closed out the second. He kept the Phillies off the scoreboard in the third, allowing the Rockies to start a comeback.

“Peter was outstanding,” Black said. “Peter had a nice mix of his pitches, but the fastball and change-up showed up tonight. We needed him and he delivered.”

The offensive surge started when first baseman C.J. Cron knocked an RBI-double to left field in the bottom of the third. Right fielder Randal Grichuk walked before third baseman Ryan McMahon lofted a ball to center where Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh attempted to make the diving grab, but the ball slipped out of his glove and Cron ran home, cutting the deficit to 4-3.

Phillies starter Ranger Suarez’s night ended after four innings, and Lambert kept dealing. He struck out two batters in the fourth. In the following inning, he struck out Bohm on a slider before catcher Elias Diaz threw out Castellanos, who was trying to steal second. Lambert finished the night with five strikeouts and two hits allowed.

“I felt good in that situation,” Lambert. “I felt that I just needed to give the team some length, so I was out there just trying to attack the hitters and get quick outs.”

Despite Philadelphia’s pitchers blanking the Rockies for four straight innings, the Rockies had a few chances to complete the comeback. In the sixth, second baseman Alan Trejo watched a potential two-run homer hook foul. Then he flew out and center fielder Brenton Doyle struck out, leaving McMahon stranded at second base.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Rockies trimmed the Phillies’ lead to 5-4 after shortstop Ezequiel Tovar’s ground out scored Cron. However, Trejo struck out with the game-tying runner, McMahon, at third.

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