Perhaps the Diamondbacks’ hex over the Rockies was broken Wednesday night with the Rockies’ 19-2 offensive explosion. But even Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado called that game “weird, and kind of fluky.”
But there was nothing weird or fluky about the Rockies’ 5-1 victory Thursday afternoon at Coors Field, a win that gave them a rare series win over Arizona and moved them to within 2 ½ games of the National League West division leaders.
Another excellent performance from starter Kyle Freeland, a crucial, highlight-reel play by Arenado, home run No. 18 by newly-minted all-star shortstop Trevor Story, and two timely pinch hits laid the foundation for Colorado’s victory. Arizona, which had won nine consecutive games in Denver, has now lost two straight.
Handcuffed by left-hander Robbie Ray for the first five innings, the Rockies finally broke through in the sixth, staking a 3-1 lead. Ray plunked Carlos Gonzalez and walked Chris Iannetta, ending Ray’s afternoon. That set the table for pinch hitters Gerardo Parra and Raimel Tapia to deliver in the clutch. Parra coxed an RBI single through the right side off Silvino Bracho, followed by Tapia’s line-drive single to right off Andrew Chafin. DJ LeMahieu‘s sacrifice fly scored Parra for the third run of the inning.
Story’s solo homer off Randall Delgado in the seventh and an RBI single by Gonzalez pushed the lead to 5-1.
Colorado pulled off multiple escape acts to keep the game close early. In the fourth, Arizona right fielder Steven Souza led off with a triple, but he was stranded at third when Freeland struck out the side. In the fifth, Nick Ahmed blasted a one-out double and Freeland was on the ropes again. When A.J. Pollock rocketed a ball to deep left-center, Freeland, thinking it was a home run, put his hands on his knees. But a gusty wind was blowing in a Coors knocked the ball down just enough to allow Noel Cuevas to make the catch on the warning track.
Colorado’s premier magic act arrived in the sixth, courtesy of Arenado. Souza led off with a double and Freeland was chased from the game. Souza advanced to third on a passed ball, and then, with one out, reliever Scott Oberg on the mound and Colorado’s infield drawn in, John Ryan Murphy scorched a 99 mph shot to Arenado at third. The ball glanced off Arenado and into the air, but he barehanded the ball and threw a strike to catcher Chris Iannetta,who tagged out Souza at the plate. Oberg struck out Chris Owings to end the inning and keep Arizona’s lead at 1-0.
Freeland has certainly been sharper than he was Thursday, but he hung tough for 5 ⅓ innings, giving up one run on six hits with four strikeouts. His only walk was an intentional pass. The left-hander lowered his ERA to 3.11. At Coors Field, the Denver native is 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA.