Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers deserved every second of the bear hug that awaited him in the home dugout Friday night.
His dual defensive plays – one in the seventh and another in the eighth – saved at least three runs and helped the Rockies seize Friday night’s series opener over the Diamondbacks, 9-4. The win extended the Rockies’ winning streak to four, improved their overall record to 56-66 and their home record to 42-21 on the season.
Since May 21, the Rockies are 29-9 at Coors for the best home record in baseball over that span.
“When you project yourself to be an everyday player in the big leagues, and that’s your goal to be an everyday player, if you’re a middle of the diamond player, like (Rodgers) wants to be, you gotta play defense,” said Rockies manager Bud Black. “He showed tonight he’s capable of those plays.”
Reliever Robert Stephenson (1-1) picked up the win, while Arizona’s Brett De Geus (2-2) earned the loss.
But with 26 combined hits between the two teams, ironically, it was Rodgers’ defense that changed the game.
Rodgers’ relay throw off a Diamondback double in the top of the eighth caught Ketel Marte at the plate. It was his diving catch an inning earlier that prevented even more damage.
Rockies reliever Jhoulys Chacin nearly gave up the 6-4 lead in the seventh. After loading the bases on a single and two walks, Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta was inches from evening the score. Peralta drove a liner up the middle, but Rockies second baseman Rodgers dove to his right and snatched the threat out of the air. The inning-ending highlight preserved the lead heading into the last two frames.
Once in the dugout, Chacin embraced Rodgers with the extended hug.
The Rockies created some separation in the sixth. Pinch-hitter Sam Hilliard ripped a triple down the first-base line to score Garrett Hampson and break the 4-4 tie. The next batter up, Connor Joe, smacked a double to center to make it 6-4 Rockies. With Austin Gomber out, the game was in the bullpen’s hands.
Gomber scattered six hits across five innings, allowing three earned runs, with three strikeouts and three walks. He was never in complete command, but the Diamondbacks failed to take full advantage of the outing. He exited with a 4-3 lead, only to see reliever Robert Stephenson concede a game-tying run two batters into the sixth inning.
Colorado threatened to crack it open in the bottom of the fifth, with runners on second and third and only one out. But Ryan McMahon lined into an inning-ending double-play, thwarting the rally and the potential crooked number.
Trevor Story came around in the third following an opposite-field triple, and the Diamondbacks responded again on Marte’s two-out solo shot to right. An inning later, Rockies left fielder Joe dropped a well-placed single to right, plating Elias Diaz to give Colorado a tenuous 4-3 lead.
The Rockies’ early edge lasted for less than an inning. After Gomber walked two to load the bases in the third, Arizona third baseman Josh Rojas connected on a single up the middle to tie it at 2.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, the Rockies capitalized after Diaz legged out an infield single. Hampson sent a 2-2 cutter 426 feet to left center to give the Rockies an early 2-0 lead.
No timeframe: Rockies LF Raimel Tapia hasn’t played since August 8 after sustaining a right big toe strain. Rockies manager Bud Black said there’s no timeframe for his return, but Tapia did do some running and agility work prior to Friday’s game.
He offered the same non-update on Yonathan Daza, who was sporting a wrap around his left hand for a recent thumb laceration. Black said Daza can’t grip a bat, and the team planned to be cautious while letting the wound heal.
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