Rockies beat Dbacks in series opener thanks to Randal Grichuk’s RBI double off Mark Melancon
In the latest battle for fourth place in the National League West, the Rockies ruined the night of one of the state of Colorado’s all-time best pitchers to get the win.
The Rockies beat the Diamondbacks 4-3 on Thursday at Chase Field, with Randal Grichuk’s RBI double off Arizona closer and Golden product Mark Melancon the difference in the series opener. Southpaw Austin Gomber pitched well enough to keep the visitors in the game, and Daniel Bard slammed the door with his 17th save.
It marked a bounce-back win for Colorado after getting swept in three games in Los Angeles to begin the road trip.
“Anytime you get swept, you know you can go down a spiral that’s not good,” Grichuk said. “For us to come get a first-game W here in Arizona — where we didn’t have success last time coming here (in May) — is huge. Hopefully we can build on that and win a series.”
Arizona starter Dallas Keuchel looked shaky in the first inning, as the Rockies tagged him for two runs thanks to Kris Bryant’s RBI double and Brendan Rodgers’ RBI single to take an early 2-0 lead.
But the Diamondbacks struck back in the second, when catcher Carson Kelly’s two-run homer tied the game. Kelly’s 420-foot home run to left came on a hanging slider by Gomber.
The teams then traded runs again in the fourth, with Ryan McMahon’s RBI single in the top of the frame getting canceled out by Kelly’s RBI single off Gomber in the bottom of the frame.
Both pitchers ended up with decent lines, with Keuchel notching a quality start by allowing those three runs through seven innings, and Gomber yielding three runs through five innings. The evening marked another positive step forward for Gomber in his second start since returning to the rotation after being demoted to the bullpen in mid-June.
“We jumped on them early, but then Keuchel settled in,” manager Bud Black said. “(Gomber) competed great, and they made it hard on him. They had some good at-bats, fought, made him work, took some borderline pitches. But I look at the overall package of pitches tonight, if he continues throwing like that, he’s going to be fine.”
Speaking of bullpens, they kept the game close on both sides. Colorado relievers Robert Stephenson, Lucas Gilbreath and Carlos Estevez working scoreless six, seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Estevez (who earned the win) stranded two in his inning in which he threw four triple-digit fastballs, including a 100-mph heater on the outside black to fan Alek Thomas to end the frame.
“There were a lot of contributions tonight,” Black said. “The last four guys out of the bullpen did a nice job.”
The Rockies then got to Melancon in the ninth, starting with Jose Iglesias’ leadoff single. Grichuk followed with a double to score Iglesias, whose hook slide at home barely beat Kelly’s tag on a textbook relay by the Diamondbacks from right-center field. The inning continued Melancon’s rough season, as the 37-year-old who was an All-Star last year with San Diego finished Thursday with a 5.26 ERA on the season.
“I saw a few pitches and just missed them, and luckily I was able to stay (inside the baseball) on a cutter and hit it just far enough away from the center fielder to drive in Iggy,” Grichuk said.
The win moved last-place Colorado to 17 games back of first-place Los Angeles, while Arizona is 16 games back. The Rockies improved to 12-11 in one-run games in 2022.
Rockies in Futures Game. A pair of top Rockies prospects were named to the National League roster for the MLB Futures Game on July 16 at Dodger Stadium: outfielder Zac Veen, who plays for High-A Spokane, and shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who plays for Double-A Hartford. Tovar’s been on the 7-day injured list since July 1 with a groin injury and is eligible to come off the IL on Friday; the hope is he’ll be healthy enough to play in the Futures Game in a couple weeks. Veen is considered Colorado’s right fielder of the future, and Tovar is considered the club’s shortstop of the future.
Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (5-5, 3.83) at Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (4-2, 3.40)
7:40 p.m. Friday, Chase Field
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
After blanking the Dodgers in a three-hit, complete-game shutout on June 27, Kuhl came back down to earth in his last start, when the Diamondbacks tagged him for five runs in five innings. Still, Kuhl has been the Rockies’ most consistent starter this season, and he fared well in his first start at Chase Field in 2022, when he went six innings and allowed one run on three hits on May 6. Kuhl’s kryptonite has been falling behind in the count, as opposing batters are hitting .387 with four homers when the count is 1-0. Friday will be the second straight game Kuhl pitches opposite of Gallen, who allowed three runs over six innings last weekend. Those runs came courtesy of C.J. Cron, who blasted two three-run homers in Colorado’s 6-5 comeback victory.
Trending: The Rockies are one of six teams in baseball that Fangraphs currently gives a 0% chance to make the playoffs. The others are the Royals, Athletics, Nationals, Pirates and Reds.
At issue: Entering Thursday, Colorado’s pitching staff ranks last in MLB with a left-on-base rate of 66.3%.
- Saturday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-6, 4.43) at Diamondbacks LHP Madison Bumgarner (4-8, 3.74), 2:10 p.m., ATTRM
- Sunday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (4-7, 5.90) at Diamondbacks TBA, 2:10 p.m., ATTRM
- Monday: Padres LHP Sean Manaea (2-4, 4.18) at Rockies RHP José Ureña (0-0, 2.51), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM