The Colorado Rockies look for a four-game series sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon in Phoenix, having won each of the previous three games by one run — 3-2 on Monday, 5-4 on Tuesday and a wild 8-7 victory on Wednesday night.
The talk after Wednesday’s win, in which the Rockies almost coughed up an 8-1 lead through 7 1/2 innings. was both teams’ decision to play the game amid other games being postponed due to players protesting racial and social injustice in the country.
Ultimately, Rockies star Charlie Blackmon said, the teams decided to play because to them it was the strongest showing of unity. However, Colorado’s Matt Kemp chose not to play in solidarity with others around the league.
Blackmon hit what turned out to be a crucial grand slam Wednesday. Before that, he made sure to let Kemp know he understood his teammate.
“We were very sensitive to what is happening,” Blackmon said. “Ultimately we decided the most unifying thing was to come out and play this game that everybody loves to play. It’s one of the most inclusive games in the world. You can be Black, white, Latino, Japanese, doesn’t matter, tall, short, fat, doesn’t matter. If you can play the game, you can be out on this field.”
The Rockies go for the sweep with left-hander Kyle Freeland on the mound. Freeland (2-1, 2.87 ERA) has pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than three runs in each of his previous six starts this season, but he is 3-4 with a 5.27 ERA in 14 career starts against the Diamondbacks.
That includes a 2-1 record with a 3.42 ERA in five starts at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks hope a late comeback in Wednesday’s game — they had a similar ninth-inning effort Tuesday — means the end of their eight-game losing streak is right around the corner. On both nights, Nick Ahmed struck out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Christian Walker just missed what would have been a game-winning grand slam on Wednesday, instead hitting a two-run double high off the left field wall.
“It’s the same mentality, the same selflessness or whatever word you want to use. It’s getting it to the next guy and stringing some at-bats together,” Walker said. “The team is in desperate need of hitting a three-run homer to take the lead or something like that. But those things don’t come when you’re trying to do that.”
The Diamondbacks lead the major leagues in runs scored in the seventh inning or later with 63. They plated six total in the eighth and ninth on Wednesday.
Arizona has its most successful starter of the season, right-hander Zac Gallen, on the mound Thursday. He’ll be making his fourth career start against the Rockies, against whom he is 0-0 with a 2.65 ERA.
Gallen can set a major league record by allowing three or fewer earned runs in his first 22 major league starts. He currently shares the mark with former Boston Red Sox pitcher Aaron Sele.
In eight career home starts at Chase Field, Gallen is 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA, a .187 opponents’ batting average and 56 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. Arizona is 7-1 in those games.
–Field Level Media