Rockies Blow Three Leads, Fall to Athletics

A disappointed Peter Lambert of the Rockies leaves the field after walking in the winning run against the Athletics
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Athletics 10, Rockies 9 (11 Innings)

OAKLAND, Calif. (May 23) — The Colorado Rockies blew three leads — two that were by four runs — en route to a 10–9 loss to the Oakland Athletics in 11 innings Thursday afternoon. All six Rockies relievers gave up runs, adding to their relief woes on the season. The loss wasted a strong effort from starting pitcher Ryan Feltner, who tossed six scoreless innings before yielding to the ‘pen.

“It was tough for our bullpen today for sure,” said manager Bud Black. “To a man, it was a struggle.”

Rockies – Athletics Game Summary

The Rockies scored a pair in the top of the first for the third straight game. This time, it did not involve a home run, however. Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar led off the game with a double to left-center. Two batters later, he scored on an errant throw. Third baseman Ryan McMahon had flied to center on a routine play, but JJ Bleday’s throw back to the infield missed the relay man and rolled all the way into the Rockies’ dugout behind first base. By rule, this advanced Tovar home for the first run. Back-to-back doubles by designated hitter Elehuris Montero and center fielder Brenton Doyle made it a 2–0 Rockies lead when the frame ended.

Staked with a two-run lead, Feltner kept the Athletics off the scoreboard. In the process, he worked his way out of two jams. The Athletics had runners on second and third with one out in the second, but a shallow fly to center and a strikeout stranded them. Two innings later, the A’s loaded the bases with one out, but a shallow fly to right held the runner at third before a routine fly to left ended the inning.

The Scoring Picks Up

The Rockies, meanwhile, did not manage another baserunner until Tovar led off the sixth with a double to left. He advanced to third on a single to right by Jake Cave, a sinking liner that forced Tovar to make sure it dropped before he could run. McMahon followed with a fly ball into the Bermuda Triangle in shallow center, where shortstop Max Schuemann got a glove on it but could not secure it. Tovar scored as Cave was retired on a 6–9–4 force play. Montero followed with a bloop into shallow left, one that eluded the glove of left fielder Daz Cameron, who attempted a sliding catch. An infield fly by Doyle brought up catcher Jacob Stallings with two outs. He singled to left, scoring McMahon from second. Montero tried to go first-to-third, but the Athletics retired him 7–5–6 to end the frame.

The Athletics got on the board in the seventh, cutting the lead to 4–1 with a double and two singles off reliever Victor Vodnik. They pulled to within 4–3 in the eighth thanks to a one-out single by right fielder Seth Brown and a two-run homer by first baseman J.D. Davis.

Jalen Beeks took the hill in the bottom of the ninth, looking for redemption after blowing a save Wednesday night. Daz Cameron quashed all hopes of that by greeting Beeks with a solo homer to left.

Extra Innings

The Athletics brought in their closer, fireballer Mason Miller, to pitch the 10th. Tuesday night, he mowed through the Rockies lineup, striking out the side with his fastball reaching as high as 103 mph. Only two Rockies swings even made contact, and they were foul balls.

Thursday afternoon was a different story. Brendan Rodgers pinch-ran for the automatic runner, catcher Jacob Stallings. Kris Bryant, the substitute first baseman, led off. But he did not strike out, instead lining a single to left, only the second hit Miller has allowed since April 25. The ball was hit so hard that Rodgers had to stop at third. It was no matter, however, as Jordan Beck brought him in with a sacrifice fly to center, the first run — unearned or earned — that Miller had allowed since March 30. Elias Diaz, pinch-hitting for Alan Trejo, also hit Miller hard, but his line drive went straight to the first baseman, who was standing so close to the bag that Bryant had no chance to get back.

The line-drive double play abruptly ended the frame, but the Rockies still held a 5–4 lead. It didn’t last long, however. A Davis groundout to second advanced Brown, the automatic runner, to third. Brown scored on a single to left by second baseman Zack Gelof, who had tied the game the previous night with a ninth-inning single.

The 11th

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Miller stayed on the mound for the 11th. Singles by Cave and Doyle drove in a run apiece, and a two-run double by Rodgers made it a 9–5 game going into the bottom of the 11th.

With a seemingly comfortable lead, Matt Koch came in to close out the game. He did not even record an out. Boom! Double to left-center by Schuemann brought in the automatic runner, Daz Cameron. 9–6. Bang! Single to right scored Schuemann. 9–7. That brought up Bleday, who crushed a homer to center and tied the game.

Peter Lambert relieved Koch. After a fly to right by Rooker, Brown singled to left. He stole second as Davis struck out, putting the winning run in scoring position with two outs. Gelof hit a grounder deep in the hole on the left side, but Tovar made a spectacular diving play to corral it. However, he could not make the throw to first, bringing up Kyle McCann with runners on the corners. McCann had two doubles and a single on the afternoon, so the Rockies intentionally walked him, loading the bases. Up came Tyler Soderstrom to hit for Cameron, who started the inning as the automatic runner. Lambert did not even throw a strike, walking in the winning run on four pitches for one of the most frustrating losses in Rockies history.

What Went Right for the Rockies

Took Early Lead

The Rockies scored in the first inning for the third time of the series, forcing the Athletics to play from behind.

Miller Is Human

The Rockies were the first team to get to the seemingly invincible Mason Miller since the first game of the season, when he pitched in a mop-up role. They scored five runs, three earned, on three hits. The Rockies cracked more hits off Miller in this game than Miller had allowed in his previous 13 appearances combined, a stretch that began April 9.

Extra-inning Outburst

The Rockies scored four runs in the top of the 11th, which should have been more than enough to win the game.

“Our offense in extra innings came up big a few times with some clutch hits, some really good at-bats.” Black said. “That’s a good thing. We used the entire bench, and it seemed like all the guys off the bench contributed. (Bryant), base hit and a walk. (Blackmon), intentional walk. Rodgers, big double to get us the four-run lead. Diaz hit a bullet on that good play by Davis.”

What Went Wrong for the Rockies

Roller Coaster Offense

After Brenton Doyle’s two-out RBI double in the top of the first, the Rockies did not even have another baserunner until Tovar led off the sixth with a double to the left-field corner. Two more hits in the inning brought across two runs, but the offense was fruitless again until extra innings.

Ineffective Relief Pitching

Every single reliever gave up at least one run. The only one not to give up an earned run was Lawrence, whose sole blemish was the automatic runner. Koch gave up four, three earned, without even recording an out. Three relievers — Kinley, Beeks, and Koch — coughed up a homer. Lambert walked in the winning run on four pitches after intentionally walking Nevin to create a force at any base.


“Obviously, (with the) bases loaded, you can’t walk a guy there, because if you do, the game’s over. But I just didn’t execute a few pitches.” — Peter Lambert on issuing the game-winning walk

“Just gotta learn from it, move on, and try to get better.” — Lambert on how to move forward as a relief unit

“As good a win as it was yesterday in extras, it was a tough one today. But we’ll bounce back.” — Bud Black

Quick Hits

The Rockies, by losing the rubber match, lost the series to the Athletics. They are now 4–12 in series finales and 3–8 on getaway days so far in 2024. The loss prevented them from winning the road trip. It would have been their first winning road trip since winning a six-game trip (4–2 record) May 5 to 10, 2023, against the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. The last winning road trip of nine or more games (7–2 record) from September 9 to 19, 2021, against the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Washington Nationals.

Ryan Feltner, appearing against the Athletics for the first time in his career, allowed no runs on four hits, walking two and striking out six across six innings. It was his first scoreless start of the season in ten tries. This was also his fourth Quality Start of the season. … Ezequiel Tovar, who doubled twice, is third in the NL with 15 doubles. … Elehuris Montero, who doubled and singled, has hit safely in nine of his last ten starts, dating to May 7. … Brenton Doyle has reached base in 13 consecutive games.

Looking Ahead for the Rockies and Athletics

Brandon Bielak got credit for the win, with Lambert taking the loss, both in relief.

Both the Rockies (16–33) and Athletics (21–31) will be home this weekend. The Rockies will kick off a six-game homestand at Coors Field. They begin with a three-game weekend series against the NL-leading Philadelphia Phillies. Rockies left-hander Ty Blach (1–2, 5.14 ERA) will start against Phillies left-hander Cristopher Sanchez (2–3, 3.31 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:40 pm Mountain.

The Athletics will host the Houston Astros for three games. Right-hander Ross Stripling (1–8, 5.19 ERA) will take the hill against a future Hall of Famer, Astros righty Justin Verlander (2–2, 3.97 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:40 pm Pacific.

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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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