Big Fifth Inning Leads Rockies Past Diamondbacks for First Win of Season

Ezequiel Tovar of the Rockies turning a double play against the Diamondbacks
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 4

PHOENIX, Mar. 30 — The Colorado Rockies rode a five-run fifth inning to a 9–4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night. They clubbed 10 hits en route to the win, their first of the 2024 campaign. Austin Gomber allowed four runs on six hits, including two homers, while walking three across 4 2/3 innings. Five Rockies relievers combined to hold the Diamondbacks scoreless the rest of the way, allowing the Rockies to mount a comfortable lead.

“The guys played hard yesterday,” manager Bud Black said. “And again, I saw the same energy today.” He later added that it was a “team win” where “a lot of guys contributed.”

Black wasn’t kidding. Seven of the starters notched a hit. Three of them smacked two hits. Even the player who struck out four times still scored a run, having reached base with a walk. The defense rolled four double plays. All five Rockies relievers tossed scoreless outings, despite allowing six walks as a unit.

Rockies – Diamondbacks Game Summary

The Diamondbacks took a 2–0 lead in the bottom of the first off Gomber. They did so with an RBI double by left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr and an RBI groundout by catcher Gabriel Moreno. In the next half-inning, the Rockies tied it up against Diamondbacks starter Tommy Henry on a two-run homer by shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. The Diamondbacks regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff homer by third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

In the top of the fifth, the Rockies took the lead for the first time in the young season. Blackmon roped a two-run double to the right-field corner, scoring first baseman Elehuris Montero and center fielder Brenton Doyle. An errant pickoff attempt by new pitcher Luis Frias and a walk drawn by Kris Bryant put runners on the corners, still with no outs. Left fielder Nolan Jones, after an 11-pitch at-bat, cleared the bases with a triple to the right-field corner. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Ryan McMahon, giving the Rockies a 7–3 lead in the middle of the fifth.

The Diamondbacks got a run back with two outs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a solo homer by Gurriel. They threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth against reliever Peter Lambert after a Suarez single and a walk by pinch-hitter Joc Pederson. An Alek Thomas double-play groundout brought up Geraldo Perdomo with Suarez on third and two outs. When Perdomo walked, Black pulled Lambert and brought in Jalen Beeks, who retired Ketel Marte on a popup to shallow right field. Brendan Rodgers sprinted over from second base and made a fine running catch to end the inning. A one-out, two-run homer by Doyle in the top of the eighth completed the scoring.

What Went Right for the Rockies

The Number Five

The Rockies put five runs on the board in the fifth inning after their first five hitters all reached base. They used five relievers in the game: Lambert, Beeks, Nick Mears, Tyler Kinley, and Justin Lawrence. In addition, the margin of victory was five runs.

Stranding Inherited Runners

Continuing with the motif of “five,” Rockies relievers inherited five runners. Lambert inherited one, while Beeks and Mears inherited two each. None of the five scored.

Mears entered the game with no outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh. He fanned Walker before retiring Moreno on a fly to center and Suarez on a grounder to third. Black said that when Mears put out that fire, “that was the game.” He explained, “In that situation, 7–4, two guys on, no outs in the seventh inning, that game’s far from over. They get a base hit there, something happens that doesn’t go our way, they’re right back in it. And with a lot of momentum, based on what’s happened the last couple of nights.”

“Bullpen did an awesome job. Mears stepped up,” Gomber said. He added, “He’s got great stuff. So to see him go out there, and then Pete (Lambert) coming in and cleaning up my inning. Beeks getting out of Pete’s inning, and so on. And then we get to the guys at the back end with the lead, we feel good about it. We just gotta find a way to get there.”

“At the start of the inning,” Mears recounted, “they said (I’d) be in there against Walker. So I was getting mentally prepared, getting ready. And then as it transpired, it turned into a—anytime you step on the mound, it’s a serious situation. But especially in this situation, three-run lead, two guys on, one swing could tie it. So it was about making pitches, making them hit my stuff, and trying to put up a zero so the guys can stay in the game.”

Defense

The Rockies turned four double plays. Three went from Rodgers to Tovar to Montero, and the fourth went from Tovar to Rodgers to Montero. Black said of the three 4–6–3 double plays, two with the speedy Alek Thomas batting, “I thought B-Rod (Rodgers) did a really good job on two of those ground balls. Charging, good firm throw to Tovar, and Tovar over-the-top velocity to first to get the double. Really, really good defense.”

McMahon Notches a Pair of Hits Yet Again

Ryan McMahon went 2-for-4 with an RBI Saturday, his third straight game with two or more hits. He is the fifth player in Rockies history to open a season with two or more hits in each of the team’s first three games of a season. The others are DJ LeMahieu (five games), Larry Walker (four games), Mark Reynolds, and Carlos Gonzalez, who did it in two different seasons.

What Went Wrong for the Rockies

Too Many Walks

Rockies pitchers walked nine Diamondbacks hitters Saturday. Four of them led off the inning, although two were erased immediately by double-play groundouts. One of the four did come back to haunt them. This happened in the first inning, when Marte walked and later scored on the Gurriel double.

Cold Streak for Bryant

Bryant struck out four times Saturday, the eighth Golden Sombrero of his career. His last Sombrero came on July 2, 2019, while playing for the Chicago Cubs against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bryant struck out three times Friday, bringing his two-day combined total to seven. He is 0-for-10 in the series with seven strikeouts, a walk, and a run scored.

Quick Hits

Gurriel continued his hot streak against Rockies pitching Saturday, going 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, a walk, and two RBI. He is now slashing .314 (22-for-70)/.351/.614 across 19 career games against the Rockies. In those 19 games, he has six doubles, five homers, 18 RBI, four walks, and 12 runs scored. With his fifth-inning homer Saturday, he became the first Diamondback to ever hit a homer in each of the team’s first three games of the season.

Montero drew three walks Saturday night. It was the first three-walk game of his career.

Quotes

“That’s something, again, we’re stressing. His two-strike approach, we’ve got to continue it. But you’re seeing the results of that, of putting the ball in play.” — Black on McMahon poking a pair of two-strike hits

“I threw the ball pretty well, honestly. The first inning, Marte had a really good at-bat on me. Carroll hits a ball that was in a tough spot, with his speed. And then Gurriel, who’s on fire right now, gets a hit. But I was able to limit and manage that, get in a little bit of a rhythm. We just needed to be able to stay in the ballgame. I tried to keep us on top. The offense did a good job tonight, scoring early and often. So it was our (the pitching staff’s) job to try to hold the lead.” — Austin Gomber assessing his start

“It definitely helps, hearing the reinforcement from the coaching staff, and especially your peers. So with the extra confidence I feel this year, it’s very reassuring to be put into those situations and for them to trust me to be out there. As a relief pitcher, that’s what you work for, those important situations. To go out there and help the team win.” — Mears on the confidence Black and the rest of the Rockies have in him

Looking Ahead for the Rockies and Diamondbacks

Lambert (1–0) earned the win in relief, with Henry (0–1) taking the loss.

The Rockies and Diamondbacks will meet again Sunday to close out their four-game series. It will be a battle of righties, Ryan Feltner for the Rockies and postseason hero Brandon Pfaadt for the Diamondbacks. First pitch will be at 1:10 pm Arizona Time/2:10 pm Mountain Daylight Time.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

Share "Big Fifth Inning Leads Rockies Past Diamondbacks for First Win of Season" on social media:
More Colorado Rockies News
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.

Order Evan's book at store.bookbaby.com
Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_m_thompson
Support Evan on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=81411994

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *