Late Long Balls Doom Rockies, Boost Athletics

Abraham Toro and JJ Bleday of the Athletics celebrate Toro's home run against the Rockies
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Athletics 5, Rockies 4

OAKLAND, Calif. (May 21) — A two-run seventh-inning homer by Seth Brown and solo shot in the eighth by Abraham Toro led the Oakland Athletics to a 5–4 come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night in front of 4,005 at the Coliseum.

The comeback snatched a win away from Cal Quantrill, who allowed two runs on three hits with a walk and eight strikeouts across six innings.

Rockies – Athletics Game Summary

Third baseman Ryan McMahon gave the Rockies a 2–0 lead with a one-out homer in the top of the first, driving in designated hitter Charlie Blackmon. The Athletics slashed the lead to 2–1 in the bottom of the third thanks to a leadoff homer by DH J.D. Davis. Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar made it a 3–1 game with a one-out solo homer in the top of the fifth, a no-doubter to the left-center-field seats.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Athletics pulled to within 3–2. Center fielder JJ Bleday cracked a sinking liner to left. Jordan Beck, coming in, attempted to make a sliding catch on his knees. The ball squirted under his glove and rolled all the way to the fence, giving Bleday an easy triple. Bleday scored on a wild pitch to the next hitter, left fielder Brent Rooker.

Tovar put the Rockies back ahead by two with another one-out solo home run to left-center, but the lead only lasted half an inning. Justin Lawrence, who relieved Quantrill in the bottom of the seventh, issued a one-out walk to second baseman Zack Gelof. That walk became costly when Brown followed with his homer, a line drive to dead center. The tie game turned into a 5–4 Athletics lead one inning later with the Toro home run to right-center off reliever Tyler Kinley. Mason Miller blew the Rockies away with a 1–2–3 bottom of the ninth, striking out the side for his ninth save of the season.

What Went Right for the Rockies

Took Early Lead

Blackmon gave the Rockies an immediate baserunner, as Athletics starter Aaron Brooks hit him with the second pitch of the game. McMahon, as mentioned earlier, cashed in on the early traffic with his two-run homer.

Top-of-the-Order Production

Blackmon, Tovar, McMahon, and catcher Elias Diaz — who batted first, second, third, and fourth, respectively — went a combined 6-for-17 (.353) with three homers, four RBI, and four runs scored.

Tovar spoke of the home runs after the game. “Honestly,” he said afterwards in Spanish through interpreter and bullpen catcher Aaron Muñoz, “believe (it) or not, coming from a strikeout, I wasn’t seeing the ball well. I was just trying to make good contact and hit the ball hard. And I think God was on my side for those two homers.” He later reiterated that he doesn’t “go out there looking to hit homers,” saying, “I just go out there and do what I can.”

Injured Players Returned

Speaking of Diaz, this was his first game back after missing a week with a sore left hand. This was also the first game back from injury for first baseman Kris Bryant, who last played April 13 due to a lower back strain.

Bryant said it felt “good” to be playing again. “My legs felt good,” he said. “Back is going to be sore for the rest of my life, so I gotta keep icing it and all that stuff, but it felt good.” He added that he was “a little anxious” in his first two at-bats. “But I settled in, not chasing. No results, but (I’m) moving in the right direction.” He complimented his teammates, saying, “(Tovar) had a great game. Cal has been pitching great. A lot of positive things here. Hopefully, (I’ll be) contributing there very quickly.”

What Went Wrong for the Rockies

Opponent Home Runs

The Athletics only managed six hits, but only one was a single. The other five were a double, a triple, and three home runs. One of the homers, as mentioned earlier, tied the game, and the other put them ahead.

Late-inning Letdown

Lawrence came in to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He retired the first hitter but walked the next one before coughing up a two-run blast to center. Kinley couldn’t keep the game tied, surrendering the leadoff homer in the eighth. He also gave up a single and a walk before striking out the next two hitters to get out of the inning.

Manager Bud Black lamented the walk that came before the home run. “We’ve talked about the walks out of our bullpen. We have to do a better job there. Those eight guys out there have to reel it in, and they know. That’s the thing that’s a little frustrating: they’re trying like heck to throw strikes.” He added that Lawrence threw a fastball over the middle of the plate, one that was “elevated” and didn’t sink.

Quick Hits

Quantrill tossed his seventh Quality Start (QS) of the season out of ten total (70%). His seven QS are tied for third in the National League, trailing only Ranger Suarez of the Philadelphia Phillies and Logan Webb of the San Francisco Giants, who both have eight. The QS% of 70 is also tied for third, trailing only Suarez (80%) and Webb (73%). … During Quantrill’s last four starts, he is 3–0 with a 1.40 ERA (4 ER, 23 2/3 IP), 7 walks, and 27 strikeouts. … Tovar’s fifth-inning homer traveled roughly 443 feet, the second-longest of his young career. With his seventh-inning homer, he chalked up the first multi-homer game of his career. … McMahon extended his season-high hitting streak to nine games and his on-base streak to fourteen. The on-base streak is the fourth-longest of his career. Additionally, his three-game homer streak is the second-longest of his career.

The Rockies only made contact on two of Miller’s 16 pitches. Both were fouled off. The last pitch of the game was a 102.8-mph fastball. By striking out the side, Miller has run his season strikeout total to 41 out of 73 total batters faced. That gives him a 56.1 K%, well more than double the major league average of 22.3%.

Looking Ahead

Lucas Erceg (2–2) earned the win, with Tyler Kinley (2–1) taking the loss, both in relief. As mentioned earlier, Miller notched his ninth save of the season. The Rockies have now lost four straight games, coming on the heels of a seven-game winning streak. Conversely, the Athletics snapped an eight-game losing streak with the victory. They have still lost 10 of their last 12 and 13 of their last 16.

The Rockies (15–32) and Athletics (20–30) will play the second game of their three-game series Wednesday evening. Rockies left-hander Austin Gomber (1–2, 3.02 ERA) will face Athletics right-hander Mitch Spence (3–2, 3.90 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:40 pm Pacific/7:40 pm Mountain.

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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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