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Rockies can't overcome shaky pitching in loss to Nats

Drew Creasman Avatar
April 24, 2019

The second game in this series against the Washington Nationals looked like an uphill battle on paper for the Colorado Rockies and that’s what it turned out to be.

Jeff Hoffman was forced to make his season debut, despite some rough Triple-A numbers and a tendency to give up big innings, because of an injury to Kyle Freeland.

In addition to that, Bud Black told us before the game that he had multiple relievers unavailable for this one.

That all played a role and proved to be too much to overcome in a 6-3 loss that evened the series.

The Rockies got on the board and took an early lead in the second when Raimel Tapia followed up a Ryan McMahon single up the middle with a towering home run over the wall in right center field.

It was his second home run in his last two swings, coming on the heels of his insurance blast in the eighth on Monday.

But the lead was short lived. Hoffman gave up a series of hard hit balls in the top of the third, three singles and a bases-clearing double to Victor Robles that swung the score in the Nationals favor at 4-3.

Hoffman was able to rebound after a mound visit that featured a very one-sided conversation. But he lost track of Robles on second, allowing him to swipe third which hurt on the next play when Howie Kendrick hit a fly ball to left for a sacrifice to give the visitors a 4-2 lead.

The Rockies had a chance to strike back in the bottom of the fourth after back-to-back two-out singles from McMahon and Ian Desmond but this time Tapia hit a grounder to short for the final out.

Colorado did get one back in the fifth, though, with a mini two-out rally that required some help from the Nats defense.

Charlie Blackmon singled to left and Trevor Story drew a walk in front of Nolan Arenado who reached outside the zone for a 2-2 fastball and hit it hard back up the middle. Wilmer Difo was unable to handle it behind second and it skipped away, allowing Blackmon to score.

Bryan Shaw came on for Hoffman and pitched the sixth and seventh, allowing a couple of hits but no runs to keep the game a one-run affair.

The Rockies’ offense fell silent over those two frames as well so it was up to Carlos Estevez to keep it close in the eighth and he did so, issuing a two-out walk but otherwise working a quick and clean frame with a pair of punchouts.

Story led off the bottom of the eighth by ripping a double into the pull gap but Arenado ground out to short and Reynolds struck out. The Nats then went to lefty closer Sean Doolittle who struck out McMahon on three pitches to strand the tying run at second.

Estevez gave up a leadoff walk then gave way to Mike Dunn in the ninth. In the left-on-left matchup with Matt Adams, the big slugger turned on one to line a double to right, putting runners at second and third with nobody out.

Colorado pulled the infield in for Difo who hit a soft grounder that Arenado wasn’t quite able to haul in at third, going down as a single to load the bases.

With the infield still in, Adam Eaton hit a grounder to third that Arenado was able to handle this time, firing home for the force out.

Dunn then made way for DJ Johnson who inherited a tough situation with the bases loaded, one out, and the speedy Robles at the plate.

He was wild to begin the at-bat, falling behind 3-1 before catching a huge break when a ball ran way inside and found the knob of Difo’s bat for an unusual foul ball. He struck him out on the next pitch, fastball at his knees.

Johnson then fell behind Juan Soto 3-0 before running the count full. Soto fouled off a couple of tough pitches, including one off his own front leg causing a short delay.

One strike away from him escaping any damage in the frame, Johnson missed low to walk in a run then plunked Howie Kendrick to bring in another.

He struck out Doolittle to end the inning but it was suddenly a 6-3 game headed into the final half frame.

 

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