Rockies, Rangers Battle to a Cactus League Tie

The Texas Rangers meet on the mound during a pitching change against the Colorado Rockies.
(Photo by Evan Thompson/Sport Relay)

Rockies 6, Rangers 6 (Tie)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Mar. 6) — The Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers played a back-and-forth game Wednesday afternoon at Salt River Fields, ultimately settling for a 6–6 tie. Davis Wendzel batted 2-for-2 with two RBI for the visiting Rangers, with home runs from Adolis Garcia and Blaine Crim adding to the scoring. The Rockies only had one extra-base hit, that being a two-run double from Brendan Rodgers, but Ryan McMahon, Bradley Zimmer, and Aaron Schunk each had RBI singles. Additionally, Hunter Goodman had an RBI groundout.

Rockies – Rangers Game Summary

The Rockies opened the scoring in the bottom of the first off left-hander Andrew Heaney. Designated hitter Charlie Blackmon led off with a single to left and advanced to second when right fielder Kris Bryant drew a walk. Two batters later, second baseman Brendan Rodgers smoked a one-out double to the corner in deep right-center, scoring both runners. Third baseman Ryan McMahon hit a sinking liner to right that fell for a single and squirted under Elier Hernandez’s glove. Rodgers would have scored either way, but the error allowed McMahon to reach third. Rangers starting pitcher Andrew Heaney struck out the next two hitters to get out of the inning, keeping the score at 3–0 Rockies.

The Rangers got one back in the top of the second off left-hander Kyle Freeland, who started for the Rockies. Shortstop Ezequiel Duran drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. With two outs, third baseman Davis Wendzel doubled off the wall in left-center over a leaping Brenton Doyle, plating Duran. The Rockies made it 4–1 in the bottom of the second after a pair of one-out walks by catcher Jacob Stallings as well as Blackmon. After a fly to left by Bryant, left fielder Bradley Zimmer — who entered the game when Nolan Jones left with back tightness — poked a single to center. Stallings scored, but Blackmon got caught in a rundown between second and third, ending the inning when the Rangers retired him.

Rangers Tie It Up, Later Take the Lead

The top of the fourth saw the Rangers tie the game. Designated hitter Adolis Garcia led off with a 398-foot homer down the line in left off new pitcher Gavin Hollowell. Two batters later, Duran legged out an infield single to third. He advanced to second on a Leody Taveras single to left and stole third, putting runners on the corners. Wendzel drove in Garcia with a single to left, advancing Taveras to second. Catcher Andrew Knapp loaded the bases with a single to right. Right fielder Elier Hernandez ripped a low liner to the shortstop. Tovar knocked it down and got the force at second. The relay to first was late, allowing Wendzel to score the tying run.

In the top of the seventh, the Rangers took the lead thanks to a Marcus Semien double and a two-out homer to left-center by first baseman Blaine Crim.

Rockies Come Back

But the Rockies countered in the bottom of the eighth. Catcher Willie MacIver led off with a single against new pitcher Diego Castillo. Zimmer, up next, smacked a grounder to second, where Cameron Cauley made a fielding error. This allowed pinch-runner Jordan Beck to reach second safely and Zimmer to reach first. Second baseman Julio Carreras sacrificed the runners to second and third, making the first out. A grounder to short by first baseman Hunter Goodman scored Beck as Zimmer remained at second. Zimmer scored when third baseman Aaron Schunk lined a single to left, tying the game at six.

The Rockies had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth, having runners on first and second with two outs. However, Rangers left fielder Daniel Mateo ran down a deep drive to left by Braxton Fulford, ending the threat and the game.

What Went Right for the Rockies

Starting Pitching

Freeland allowed one run on one hit while walking one and striking out five across three innings. On the Wendzel double, he left a thigh-high slider right down the middle. “It was supposed to be a backdoor slider, and I just laid it in there. Really wasn’t a ton of conviction behind that pitch, which is on me. Gotta make sure that conviction is behind every single pitch. That’s usually what the outcome is when you don’t have conviction behind your pitch and are just trying to lay it in there for a strike. Usually gets hit pretty hard.

“Outside of that, we executed the gameplan that we wanted to do. Fastball-sliders in the first inning. Add the change-up in the second inning, and full arsenal third inning.”

For the grip on the change-up, which is new for Freeland this season, he is splitting his fingers slightly, giving him a hybrid between a straight change and a circle change. It is not enough of a “vulcan changeup” grip to create split-fingered action, however.

Jumping on the Opposition Early

The Rockies scored four runs in the first two innings, including the hard-hit double by Rodgers and four singles. “We had some good at-bats that first inning,” manager Bud Black said. He later added, “We’ve been swinging the bats well.”

Mostly Strong Relief

Riley Pint, Tyler Kinley, Evan Justice, and Jake Bird each tossed an inning of scoreless relief.

What Went Wrong for the Rockies

Hitting Cooled Off after the First

The Rockies scored three runs on three hits in the first. In the second, they scored a run on two hits. From the third inning onward, they scored a total of two runs on three hits.

Two Tough Relief Innings

Gavin Hollowell got roughed up in the fourth inning, allowing five hits — including the Garcia homer — and three earned runs.

Justin Lawrence allowed two runs on three hits in the seventh, including the Crim homer.

Injury Update

Jones, after leaving the game, told Sport Relay that he’ll be okay, but his back simply acted up on him. He was frustrated that it happened and that he had to leave the game over it. However, he expects to be back in the lineup Thursday, adding that leaving the game was a precautionary measure.

Quotes

“I like how the ball is coming out. The ball is coming out firm. His fastball is crisp. Slider is crisp. He threw some good sliders today. Mixed in some change-ups as well. Overall, another positive outing for Kyle.” —Black on Freeland’s outing

“Good swing by Rodgers for sure. I liked that one. That ball was driven. He barreled that ball up. Charlie battled, fought a ball off the other way. We had some good at-bats that first inning. Little bit light after that, only got the two runs. But we’ve been swinging the bats pretty well.” — Black on his team’s offensive performance

“Not my best. Mechanically, I felt a little off. Everything was east-west. Pulling off fastballs on the inner half that I normally stick on the glove side. It was a battle.” — Rangers left-hander Andrew Heaney on his three-inning outing, where he allowed four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out four.

“You work on things. They feel good, then they feel bad. Then you figure out why they feel bad, then hopefully you get them to feel good again, then the season starts.” — Heaney describing a typical spring training for a pitcher

Looking Ahead

The Rockies and Rangers will both be at their spring homes Thursday. At Salt River Fields, the Rockies will host the Kansas City Royals at 1:10 pm Mountain Time. Right-hander Cal Quantrill will take the hill for the Rockies against Royals lefty Cole Ragans. At Surprise Stadium, the Rangers will host the defending NL champion Arizona Diamondbacks, also at 1:10 pm Mountain Time/2:10 pm Central Time. It will be a battle of right-handers, Jose Ureña for the Rangers and Zac Gallen for the Diamondbacks.

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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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