Rockies’ road woes continue with walk-off hit batter sinking them St. Louis


The Rockies’ road to postseason perdition has been all too familiar this summer.

Respectable within in the friendly confines of Coors Field, the Rockies turn punchless once they leave the thin air of the Front Range.

While they did land a few haymakers in Tuesday night’s series opener at St. Louis, including three RBIs from Charlie Blackmon and two runs from feel-good rookie Wynton Bernard, Busch Stadium transformed into the same house of horrors that has haunted the Rockies for years.

And this one came with a particularly cruel ending: The Cardinals walking off 5-4 winners after reliever Dinelson Lamet plunked Tyler O’Neill with an errant slider with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

The loss dropped the Rockies to 2-8 in the first game of road trips this season, 18-37 overall away from Coors, and 2-16 at Busch since May 18, 2016.

“This situation that we’re in, it (stinks),” starter Kyle Freeland told reporters after the loss. “You want to try to win every single game, then you look at the record, you look at where we’re at in the standings, and it’s a tough pill to swallow.”

St. Louis scored the game-winning run despite not hitting the ball out of the infield in the final frame.

Lamet walked the first two batters — Andrew Knizner and Lars Nootbaar — to open the inning, then threw wild fielding a would-be sacrifice bunt from Dylan Carlson (ruled a single) to load the bases with no outs.

Manager Bud Black opted to bring in an outfielder to create a five-man infield as O’Neill stepped to the plate. But the gamesmanship was all for naught. After getting to a 2-2 count, Lamet threw a slider that failed to break and instead hit O’Neill in the elbow to end the game.

“He just couldn’t find that consistent release point to get his pitches in the strike zone,” Black told reporters after the game. “His stuff was fine, the fastball velocity and the slider. He just couldn’t seem to find his release point.”

Six days after getting shelled by these same Cardinals for six runs in a 9-5 loss at Coors Field, Freeland battled over six innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts on 100 pitches (69 strikes). Two mistakes, however, put the Rockies in a 3-0 hole after five innings.

After failing to drive in a run with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Tommy Edman capitalized on the first mistake, driving Freeland’s 2-0 sinker 417 feet to left-center field for a solo homer.

The second came one inning later, when NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt skied an 88 mph pitch 371 feet to left field for his 29th homer of the season — a two-run shot that gave Cardinals starter José Quintana a 3-0 cushion.

“I thought Kyle’s pitch mix was very solid and overall he got the ball down, got his ground balls, got a few strikeouts, so he did his part,” Black said. “The one pitch to Goldy was up out over the plate. .. He’d like that one back, but he got through that first inning and seemed to gain a little confidence.”

Quintana was in control early, no-hitting the Rockies through the fist five innings. Then the hits came in bunches for Colorado. Bernard, the 31-year-old rookie outfielder, reached on an infield single to lead off the sixth, and three consecutive singles from Connor Joe, Blackmon and Brendan Rodgers followed to chase the left-hander from the game.


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