SEATTLE — Albert Pujols has become the 32nd player in major league history to reach 3,000 hits, getting a broken-bat single to right field off Seattle’s Mike Leake in the fifth inning to join the exclusive club.
Pujols dumped the single into shallow right field on his sixth attempt to reach the mark after getting to 2,999. He received a standing ovation from the crowd in Seattle and was given the baseball as a memento. His teammates all greeted Pujols on the field before action resume.
Pujols nearly got the mark in the first inning, but his hard liner was right at shortstop Jean Segura. Pujols walked on a 3-2 pitch leading off the fourth inning after fouling off four two-strike pitches.
The 38-year-old Pujols joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez as the fourth player in baseball history with 3,000 hits and 600 homers. He’s the first player to reach the mark since Adrian Beltre last year against Baltimore.
CHICAGO — The last time Tyler Anderson pitched he was light-headed, short of breath and a little bit scared. That was last Friday in Miami, when he departed in the second inning of the Rockies’ 1-0 victory over the Marlins.
Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the 28-year-old left-hander pitched one of the best games of his career as the Rockies routed the Cubs, 11-2, to take the three-game series.
“As soon as I came out of that game in Miami, and as soon was we found out that nothing was wrong, I kind of turned the page and forgot that it ever happened,” he said. “It wasn’t like ‘revenge,’ or trying to get back out there. It was just going back to my routine and doing my thing.”
Anderson did almost everything right Wednesday, as Colorado starters continue to make the strides the club must see if it is going to be a playoff contender. Over the last eight games, Rockies’ starters have posted a 1.68 ERA.
Yes, Anderson gave up two solo home runs, one to Anthony Rizzo in the fourth inning and one to Kris Bryant in the sixth, but on a day when the wind was blowing out, those were minor sins, easily forgiven.
“Tyler was crisp from the get-go,” manager Bud Black said. “It was arguably one of the better games that I have seen him throw over the last two years. I thought all of his pitchers were working, We talked about the tempo that he needs to pitch at — and he did it.
“He was throwing strikes with the fastball, the cutter was outstanding; good use of the change and mixing in the curveball. He pitched. He was crisp, man, and it was great to watch.”
Anderson’s seven innings were a season high, as were his nine strikeouts. He gave up a mere three hits while coaxing nine groundball outs, something that came in handy on a day when the Windy City lived up to its name.
“I felt like today we did a better job of attacking the zone and getting contact when we needed it,” said Anderson. “It was good to be able to keep the ball on the ground today, because it seemed there was a homer every time the ball got in the air.”
That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not much of one. The Rockies hit four homers, two by Nolan Arenado and one by Trevor Story and Chris Iannetta. All told, the Rockies cranked out 15 hits, giving Anderson a four-run cushion after four Colorado at-bats.
“Absolutely that helped,” Anderson said. “Honestly, they did all the work. For those guys to go out and put up a lead like that, it makes it easier for us to go out there and throw up zeroes. And it makes (the Cubs’) offense more aggressive. They are already aggressive, and when they are down by three or four (runs) it makes it easier to pitch.”
Arenado, however, tipped his cap to the guys on the mound.
“Our starting pitching lately has really kind of carried us,” said Arenado, who drove in five runs. “Obviously today, offensively, we did what we are capable of. But the starters have done a really good job and given us a chance.”
Anderson walked only one batter, continuing a recent trend that’s left Black with a smile on his face.
“I’m very pleased,” Black said. “Maybe it’s coincided with the weather warming up a little bit. That might have something to do with it. Maybe they’re are just getting their footing. But this last seven or eight games have been really solid, and to pitch here, the way we did, with the wind blowing out, really showed how well these guys have pitched. That was impressive.”
It starts with pitching
The Rockies (17-15) have been getting excellent starting pitching, ever since an ugly, 13-5 loss to San Diego on April 23 at Coors Field. A look at what Rockies’ starters have done in the last eight games:
- Posted a 1.68 ERA
- Struck out 51 while walking only 10
- Given up only four homers
- Held opposing hitters to a .171 average
DENVER — Nolan Arenado was initially called safe when he tried to score on a bases-loaded pitch that bounced to the backstop, then was ruled out on a video review that ended a 9-7 win for the Chicago Cubs over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Cubs star Kris Bryant left in the first inning after he was hit on the head with a 96 mph pitch from German Marquez. The ball made a loud sound as it hit off the underside of the flap of his helmet, and it was not immediately clear how much direct contact it made his Bryant’s head. Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said Bryant passed tests and had no sign of a concussion.
David Dahl’s two-out walk against Brandon Morrow loaded the bases in the ninth, and Morrow bounced an 0-2 slider that ricocheted off the mitt of catcher Willson Contreras. The ball bounced to the third-base side of the plate, Contreras grabbed it after a rebound off the low, brick wall and threw a perfect strike to Morrow, who tagged Arenado on the right ankle as the foot cross the plate.
Umpire Cory Blaser signaled safe, but the call was reversed about 90 seconds later and the Cubs jogged out of their dugout to celebrate. Morrow got his fourth save.
Tommy La Stella, Kyle Schwarber and Victor Caratini hit RBI singles later in the first off Marquez (1-2). Baez’s seventh homer made it 4-0 in the second and Jason Heyward had a two-run single in the third for a 6-0 lead.
Jose Quintana (2-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven, raising his big league total to 1,004.
Trevor Story hit a two-run triple in the third on a fly ball Heyward loss in the sun, and home runs on consecutive pitches by Charlie Blackmon and Arenado cut the Rockies’ deficit to 6-4 in the fifth. Each team scored three runs in the seventh.
Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra dropped his appeal and began serving a four-game suspension from his part in a bench-clearing brawl against San Diego on April 11. The Rockies cannot fill his active roster spot during the suspension but they did recalled outfielders David Dahl and Noel Cuevas from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned outfielder Michael Tauchman to the Isotopes.
Cubs: CF Albert Almora Jr. was briefly down after making a diving catch on Arenado’s drive in the first inning. He was attended to by trainers but stayed in the game. He crashed into the wall after making a running catch of Blackmon starting the bottom of the ninth.
Rockies: OF Carlos Gonzalez was placed on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain, retroactive to Thursday.
Cubs: LHP Tyler Chatwood (0-3, 4.60) is to open a three-game series in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (3-0, 1.44) is on the mound when the Rockies start a three-game home series against San Diego on Monday night.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
For the Chicago Cubs, and their legions of fans who turned Coors Field into Wrigley Field West, Sunday afternoon was a party topped off by a wild 9-7 victory.
The game ended when Nolan Arenado was thrown out at home attempting to score from third with two out and the bases loaded on a would-be wild pitch by relief pitcher Brandon Morrow. Catcher Wilson Contreras threw to Morrow, who applied the tag. Arenado was called safe by the home plate umpire but a replay review overturned the call and the game was over.
For the Rockies, who fell to 3-6 at home in front of a sellout crowd of 48,137, it was a messy affair.
Case in point: A seventh-inning bunt by Steve Cishek when the Rockies failed to cover first base. The miscue loaded the bases and helped set up three Chicago runs, the big hit being a two-run double by the sizzling Javier Baez.
At 9-4, the game seemed out of reach, but back came the Rockies, who scored three runs in the seventh. The key hit was a line-drive single by David Dahl off the leg of reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to score Arenado. Edwards’ throwing error to first allowed Trevor Story to score.
Chicago’s ace in the hole was center fielder Albert Almora, who three times robbed the Rockies of hits with sensational catches, including a running grab in the ninth off a Charlie Blackmon drive that ended with Almora crashing into the wall. Singles by Arenado and Trevor Story and a walk to Dahl loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth against Morrow, leading to the game’s odd ending with Ian Desmond at bat.
Colorado, dazed by the Cubs’ early, six-run onslaught against starter German Marquez, managed to regain its balance and rally. In a two-run third singles by DJ LeMahieu and Blackmon, followed up by a two-run triple off the bat of Story that right fielder Jason Heyward lost in the sun.
Colorado cut the lead to 6-4 in the fifth on back-to-back homers by Blackmon and Arenado.
Marquez, who’s been an elevator so far this season, hit the bottom floor Sunday. He hit Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant in the helmet with a 96 mph fastball in the first inning, which seemed to unnerve Marquez. Bryan left the game and suffered a cut to his face, but he did not suffer a concussion.
The Cubs quickly retaliated by scoring three runs. A solo home run by Baez in the second, followed by a two-run Chicago third doomed Marquez. He pitched 3 ⅓ innings, having given up six runs on eight hits.
Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season.
Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.
In Jon Gray’s three starts, he has had two bad outings and one good. In the good outing, Tony Wolters was the catcher behind the plate. Is this a coincidence or should Wolters be Gray’s personal catcher?
— Aaron Hurt, Omaha, Nebraska
Aaron, that’s a good question, because I think it’s true that sometimes – I emphasize, sometimes – a pitcher thrives when he has a “personal” catcher behind the plate.
In this case, I don’t think it’s true. Gray’s inability to evolve into the starter the Rockies hope he’ll become rests on Gray’s shoulders.
You are right in noting that in Gray’s one good start — at San Diego when he pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits – Wolters was behind the plate. However, I don’t think there is a trend.
I realize that you submitted your question before Gray’s last start at Washington, in which Wolters was behind the plate. But Gray melted down in the sixth inning of that game.
In my opinion, Gray’s problem is a lack of execution and a lack of focus in key moments. He’s got the pitches to take the next step, but does he have the other “stuff?” We’re still waiting to find out.
Ok, I have seen enough of Trevor Story. It has only been two games but enough is enough. When are the Rockies going to send him down to Triple-A and bring up Brendan Rodgers? If the Rockies are serious about contending this year, then they need to make the appropriate moves.
— Victor, Alameda, Calif.
Victor, I’m playing catch up on this question. I’m responding on the morning after Story hit a three-run homer in the Rockies’ 6-2 win over the Pirates.
Still, I’m getting this question a lot. There is no question that Story is struggling and he’s been striking out at an alarming and unacceptable rate. He’s batting .200 (13-for-65) with 26 strikeouts (40 percent).
On the plus side, Story has hit four homers and has been playing excellent defense. So it’s way too early to bail on Story.
But the big flaw in your argument rests on the idea that Brendan Rodgers is ready to be a full-time big-leaguer. He’s not. Check out a recent report from my colleague, Kyle Newman, about Rodgers’ slow start at Double-A Hartford.
Fans often think that a big impression during spring training and big numbers in the minors means a prospect is ready for success in the majors. It’s simply not true. The pitching in the majors is light years ahead of pitching in the minors.
Story knows this himself. In 2016, he broke out in historic fashion, but now that there is a book out on him, he’s struggling.
Hey Patrick, nice job as always. I wanted your opinion on the young season so far. Seems as though some of the same issues have rolled over to this year. Thanks.
— Tony, Denver
Tony, that a huge, all-encompassing question, but let me fire off a few thoughts:
• The biggest challenge facing this team remains starting pitching. There is a lot of promise here (German Marquez was excellent Monday on a cold night in Pittsburgh). But overall, the starters have been inconsistent and they have to start going deeper into games or the bullpen will be fried by the all-star break.
• Although Ian Desmond and Trevor Story have delivered huge homers over the last two games, I have concerns about the bottom half of the order. Simply put, the Rockies need more consistent production from players other than Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Chris Iannetta.
• The bullpen is as good as advertised. Better, actually, because Adam Ottavino has been sensational.
• I like the makeup of the team. It’s a selfless, hard-nose group.
Is it time for the Rockies to send Gray down for an attitude adjustment? He said he wants to pitch 200-plus inning. Well, he has a long way to go if he wants to reach that goal.
— Keith, Aurora
Keith, please see my comments above on Gray. But to your point: “Sending him down,” won’t accomplish anything. Gray could go down and blow Triple-A hitters away with his pure stuff. That’s not the problem. He’s got to learn how to shut down big-league lineups on a consistent basis, learn how to succeed when he doesn’t have his best stuff, and learn how to thrive despite adversity.
I’m on the record as being a big fan of Gray’s potential and bright future, but I’ll admit that his beginning to this season has been disappointing.
I just don’t get it. Why is David Dahl still in Triple-A? He should be starting every game in left fielder for the Rockies right now.
— Andy, Littleton
Andy, I’m a big David Dahl fan and I thought he should have made the 25-man roster out of spring training. The Rockies thought otherwise, in part because they wanted Dahl to get more at-bats at Triple-A after missing not playing a single game at the majors last season.
Now, Dahl’s timeline has been slowed by a stomach illness that landed him on the seven-day disabled list at Triple-A. It’s going to be a while longer before the Rockies consider calling him up.
Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.