Charlie Blackmon got the heave from home plate umpire Sam Holbrook in the ninth inning Saturday night. Then manager Bud Black got tossed. In a testy ninth, a long losing skid finally reared its ugly face. Even strike calls hurt.
Blackmon and Black did not have time to walk the dark hallway back to their clubhouse before the Rockies’ 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox became official in the stuffing game of a weekend interleague series. The outcome fell apart that quickly.
Tim Anderson launched a leadoff home run off Colorado all-star closer Greg Holland in the ninth inning, then Chicago closer David Robertson struck out Blackmon and pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez to end the game. Blackmon did not appreciate his called third strike, a 92 mph fastball on the lower line of the zone. He screamed at Holbrook long enough for the thumb, then slammed his bat and helmet into the grass.
Black’s protests did not help. He was ejected seconds later.
Friday, the Rockies belted a season-high 17 hits for 12 runs in a blowout victory over the White Sox. It set them up for their first series victory since sweeping the San Francisco Giants on June 18. But in the 20 days since then, Colorado has failed to win consecutive games, going 5-13.
And after the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers’ walk-off walk in the 10th inning of a victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, the Rockies fell 9 1/2 games behind in the National League West race.
Colorado nearly rallied itself to life, like the club so often did earlier this season while racing to the division lead. Left fielder Gerardo Parra, who returned Friday from a month-long leg injury, hit a deep flyball to center field in the ninth off former Rockies reliever Tommy Kahnle to score Mark Reynolds on a sacrifice. Reynolds tripled off the right-field wall. The score was tied 4-4.
Anderson’s homer, on a 94 mph fastball, was the only hit Holland allowed. It nonetheless tagged Holland with his first loss of the season.
Parra’s RBI double in the sixth brought the Rockies within 4-3. More important, it pushed Jose Quintana to the bench. He struck out 10 Colorado batters, including three in the second inning that stranded Trevor Story after a leadoff double to center.
The Rockies fought from the jump, flipping a 3-0 deficit in the first into a one-run margin heading to the second after Blackmon singled to right and stole second base, then Nolan Arenado blasted his 17th home run, a two-run shot to left that gave him a baseball-best 70 RBIs.
Jeff Hoffman took some time to settle in. He used only eight pitches to strike out Adam Engel looking and get Melky Cabrera to ground out at Story. But the White Sox’s next four batters reached base, with a Jose Abreu triple, a Todd Frazier walk, a Yolmer Sanchez two-run triple and Kevan Smith’s run-scoring single.
Coors Field played large. Willy Garcia tripled off Hoffman again in the fourth to center field. And he scored a deciding run when Quintana looped a sacrifice fly to left field.
Quintana survived 5 1/3 innings on five hits, but his early exit only capped his strikeout total at 10, against two walks. He whiffed Arenado, Story and Raimel Tapia twice apiece.
Hoffman countered in length. The 24-year-old needed only 12 pitches to cruise through the fifth and sixth innings. And he shut down the seventh 1-2-3. Colorado pulled him only for a pinch hitter, after he gave up four runs on seven hits, with a pair of strikeouts and walks.