Rockies hope to keep playing spoiler against Phillies


The Colorado Rockies compiled only 18 road victories heading into this four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Make it 20.

The Rockies won the opener Thursday with the help of a dramatic two-run home run by Ryan McMahon with two strikes and outs in the ninth inning. On Friday, they blitzed the Phillies 11-2.

Colorado (65-77) will now look for its third straight win when the teams meet Saturday.

“We’re trying to play spoiler, right?” McMahon said. “We’re playing some teams who are fighting for playoff spots, so that’s kind of going to be our gig.”

Trevor Story and C.J. Cron crushed back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning, and Elias Diaz added a grand slam in the ninth in the rout Friday.

“Our guys have done a really good job of playing the entire game, whether it’s 54 outs or extra innings,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “It’s the sort of thing that shows up in our walk-off wins at home, but we keep battling, we keep playing. A lot of these guys are learning.”

The Rockies will hand the ball to Kyle Freeland (5-7, 4.69 ERA) to try and extend the winning streak. Freeland is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his three career starts against the Phillies.

Freeland’s game plan is simple each time out.

“I’m not trying to do too much out there, there’s no reason,” Freeland said. “I’m pitching well right now. The team’s playing well behind me. In my mind, there’s no reason to try to do more. When you start doing that, that’s usually when things kind of go south for you.”

The reeling Phillies will hope to avoid a fifth straight loss.

They lost two in a row to the Milwaukee Brewers and the first two games of this series against the Rockies. But their record dropped to 71-70 and they trail the Atlanta Braves by 4 1/2 games in the National League East.

The Phillies haven’t reached the postseason since 2011, the longest active playoff drought in the NL.

“We need to be better,” Bryce Harper said. “That’s the simple truth.”

Phillies manager Joe Girardi looked visibly frustrated during the game and even more so in the postgame press conference.

“I’m just not happy,” Girardi said. “I hate to lose.”

Zack Wheeler (12-9, 2.91) is scheduled to start for the Phillies. Wheeler has struggled in his career against the Rockies, going 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in two starts.

For much of this season, Wheeler emerged as a legitimate NL Cy Young Award candidate. But he hasn’t been quite as sharp in recent outings.

With just 21 regular-season games remaining, the Phillies desperately need a solid performance from their ace — especially if they want to inch any closer to playoff contention.

“That’s obviously the goal, right? Pitch in the playoffs and go far in the playoffs,” Wheeler said. “That’s the goal every spring training: win the World Series. I’ve never pitched in the playoffs. With the crowd, the intensity and all that stuff, I’m looking forward to it.

“Hopefully we can get there and that’s going to be big.”

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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