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Rockies steal one late to avoid four-game sweep

Patrick Lyons Avatar
July 26, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In what was originally a matchup of two starting pitchers known as TBD, the Rockies selected young Jeff Hoffman to make his seventh start of the season while the Nationals activated seven-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer for Thursday’s fourth and final game of the series.

To say Colorado would have been pleased for Hoffman to keep them in this game is an understatement, especially as they’re mired in a 1-5 road trip. For Hoffman to match the great Mad Max is icing on the cake. And to get a win after losing the lead twice and being down 7-5 with six outs remaining is basically getting that cake on sale.

In a back-and-forth contest, it was a slew of former players that made the difference: former Nationals’ Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond for Colorado and former Rockies’ Gerardo Parra for Washington.

The Rockies made the most of their only opportunity against Scherzer, who cruised through the first three innings with a hit to his counterpart Hoffman the only one for the purple. In the fourth, Daniel Murphy doubled to right with one out. With two outs, Ryan McMahon singled to put give Colorado the 1-0 lead.

Garrett Hampson blasted a Scherzer fastball on 1-2 for his second home run of the season, a two-run home run that extended their lead to three.

Hoffman did well to limit damage through his five innings of work, managing to get out of a bases loaded jam in the third and hurling a scoreless fourth that prevented Washington from responding. He’d fan four batters and walk four others, but he’d exit his start against Scherzer with score tied.

Preceded by a Turner single and a base on balls to Adam Eaton, the Nationals surge came in the fifth on a three-run home run to left center field by Anthony Rendon that brought the score to three apiece.

Colorado immediately responded, going ahead 5-3, courtesy of McMahon’s 11th home run of the season, a two-run shot traveling 420 ft to right center that scored Murphy.

But in the sixth, Washington countered with three of their own. Bryan Shaw walked two straight hitters to bring up the pitcher’s spot. Parra’s game-tying pinch hit double set the stage for a Trea Turner single that scored Parra to put ahead Washington 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth.

Though not in the starting lineup in any of the four games this series, Parra did copious amounts of damage in three pinch hit plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a walk, double, two runs scored and five runs batted in.

Washington got some padding via a home run from Matt Adams; however, the ex-Nats had visions of exacting their own revenge. Murphy’s solo homer reduced the lead to one in the eighth and Ian Desmond followed with a leadoff home run in the ninth to tie the score at 7-7. “I don’t know if I’ve ever hit a home run where I felt less likely to hit a home run,” Desmond confessed.

With closer Sean Doolittle having saved both ends of Wednesday’s doubleheader – and with a series against the Dodgers this weekend for DC – Fernando Rodney was stuck with completing the ninth inning. Charlie Blackmon walked and eventually came around to score on the game-winning RBI by Murphy.

The win prevented a four-game sweep, but in losing three in the series, Colorado leaves the Capitol with a losing record at Nationals Park for the first time since going 0-3 in 2014.

In an odd case of symmetry, one the greatest Rockies players of all-time, Troy Tulowitzki, announced his retirement today on the day that Jeff Hoffman, a player in which he was traded for in 2015, had one of best and most memorable starts of his early career.

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