Diamondbacks Seize Control Late for Convincing Win over Rockies

Josh Rojas of the Diamondbacks belts a double against the Rockies.
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 1

DENVER, Apr. 28 — Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly — who entered the game fifth in the majors in walk percentage — walked only one over six innings as the Diamondbacks, aided by a big seventh and bigger ninth, crushed the Colorado Rockies, 9–1, on a cold Friday night.

Kelly said after the game that he didn’t feel great about the way he pitched but liked the results. “I probably missed more spots than I hit tonight,” he said. “But, obviously, to get through six and only walk one with the games that I’ve been coming off as far as being sporadic and spraying the ball a little bit, I’m happy with the fact that I was able to throw some strikes today.”

Diamondbacks Take Narrow Lead, Rockies Tie It Up

The Diamondbacks broke through in the top of the third despite a tough-luck double play. Catcher Gabriel Moreno lined a leadoff single to left, bringing up center fielder Alek Thomas. Thomas hit a hard line drive to the left side, but it was low enough that Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon didn’t have to jump very high to make the catch. As he landed, he fired to first, doubling up Moreno before he could dive back into first. That turned the lineup over and brought up second baseman Ketel Marte. On 1–2, Rockies left-handed starter Kyle Freeland hung a slider, and Marte made him pay dearly. He launched a 435-foot ICBM deep into the left-field stands, giving the Diamondbacks a 1–0 lead.

The Rockies responded in the bottom half off Kelly. A leadoff single by shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and one-out single by left fielder Jurickson Profar sandwiched a fly to right by designated hitter Charlie Blackmon. After right fielder Kris Bryant lined to center, first baseman C.J. Cron looped a single to right. Tovar scored on the play, tying the game at one.

But after that, Kelly settled down, trading zeroes with Freeland over the next three innings. “You guys have watched me long enough now that usually if I’m gonna get into trouble, it’s usually in the first couple innings,” Kelly reminded the assembled media. “After that, I settle in and start finding that rhythm, going with the game plan that we have put in place. There’s groundwork as far as the first couple of at-bats against guys, and you start feeling out what they’re trying to do. And the execution probably got a little bit better.”

Rockies Error in Seventh, Strange Plays in Ninth Give Diamondbacks Commanding Lead

The execution got better for the Diamondbacks, but it did not for the Rockies. Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off with a walk and scored on a follow-up double off the wall in left-center by first baseman Christian Walker. That ended Freeland’s night and brought in right-hander Justin Lawrence. Geraldo Perdomo — pinch-hitting for third baseman Evan Longoria — sacrificed Walker to third, making the first out of the inning. A walk by right fielder Corbin Carroll put runners on the corners for Josh Rojas, pinch-hitting for shortstop Nick Ahmed. Rojas hit a grounder to third. McMahon gloved it smoothly and fired to second, where Alan Trejo dropped the ball as a sliding Carroll reached the bag. Walker scored easily as Carroll popped up and hustled to third. Moreno brought Carroll home with a sacrifice fly to right, making the score 4–1.

Scott McGough pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh for the Diamondbacks. Rockies reliever Daniel Bard and Diamondbacks reliever Miguel Castro combined to repeat the feat in the eighth. The top of the ninth, however, was a different story.

The Ninth

Perdomo and Carroll led off with consecutive singles to center. Rojas belted a deep fly to center that bounced in front of the warning track and hit the yellow stripe atop the wall. The ball initially appeared as if it would continue into the stands for a ground-rule double, but instead it landed on the yellow stripe again and rebounded back into the field of play. Perdomo initially waited at second so he could tag up if the ball was caught. Once he saw the ball hit the wall, he bolted for the plate. Carroll, mere feet short of second, did the same. The pair ended up scoring a step apart.

“I saw (Carroll) running around the bases, and I thought he actually would have caught (Perdomo) for sure,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said with a grin. “One of the fastest human beings I’ve ever been around.”

The next play was a microcosm of the Rockies’ season defensively thus far. It also sent much of the 24,197 in attendance heading toward the exits. Moreno hit a ground ball toward the hole on the left side. Rojas took two strides before realizing that it wasn’t getting through. McMahon got a good jump to his left and cut the ball off on two hops. Rojas was seemingly a dead duck, hung up in a rundown. McMahon threw to Trejo on the bag at second. Rojas started back toward third. Trejo took a few steps and lobbed to McMahon. Rojas, breaking back to second immediately, got around Trejo and sprinted back to second, where there was no fielder covering.

Thomas walked, loading the bases for Marte, whose sacrifice fly to center plated Rojas. Two-out singles from Gurriel and Walker scored Moreno and Thomas, respectively, to finish the scoring.

Looking Ahead

Kelly (2–3) earned the win, while Freeland (2–3) took the loss. The Diamondbacks (15–12) and Rockies (8–19) square off again Saturday evening. Diamondbacks left-hander Tommy Henry (0–0, 6.23 ERA) will take the hill against rookie Rockies right-hander Noah Davis (0–0, 0.93 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:10 pm Mountain Daylight Time/5:10 pm Arizona Time.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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