After a grueling stretch of 17 consecutive contests without a day off that included a 10-game road trip, the San Francisco Giants flew into the Mile High City as a banged-up team against the home run-happy Colorado Rockies. Two of the Giants’ most crucial contributors rode the pine on Tuesday night. Neither 2012 MVP Buster Posey or leadoff hitter Angel Pagan were in the lineup due to an irritated back nerve and pinched AC joint respectively.
The Giants were able overcome the hardship of not having a pair of their best run producers in the order, courtesy of a solid pitching performance by potential Cy Young candidate Madison Bumgarner. The 24-year-old southpaw has excelled on the road this season. Entering the Giants’ showdown with Colorado, Bumgarner had posted a 3-1 record with a 1.69 ERA on the road as opposed to a highly inefficient 6.20 ERA at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Colorado had opportunities throughout the game, but couldn’t come up with a big-time clutch hit until the final at-bat of the game. Nolan Arenado took advantage of a noticeably defunct Sergio Romo with the game on the line, crushing a hanging pitch to the left field wall for a game-winning two-run double. The Rockies possess the most explosive offense in all of baseball, but couldn’t bust through against a Buster-less squad of Giants. Arenado came through in a clutch situation to narrow the Rockies’ deficit to just two games in the NL West.
The Rockies present a legitimate threat to both the unsurprisingly-talented Giants and the preseason hands-down favorite Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have yet to gain significant forward momentum, but the Giants and Rockies don’t appear bound to disappear anytime soon. For the Rockies to continue to contend, they need to find ways to win big games like this.
When news broke that both Pagan and Posey would sit with minor injuries, Colorado’s hazardous lineup undoubtedly took note. Yet, it took 24 outs for the Rockies to expose the ill-fated Giants. San Francisco nearly escaped Coors Field with another signature win, but came up short in the face of Romo’s hanging no-dot slider. Aside from catcher Wilin Rosario, who belted a game-tying two-run bomb in the sixth inning, the Rockies weren’t able to generate a big punch at the dish until Arenado’s game-winning at-bat.
Colorado’s inability to score in clutch situations against a quality opponent, like the Giants, is going to spell disaster in the season’s second half if they fail to take advantage of run-scoring opportunities in early innings. The Rockies were just 2-of-12 with RISP against the Giants and stranded 10 runners on base. That can’t happen if Colorado expects to win the division.
The Rockies solidified their status as legitimate contenders in the NL West. San Francisco can seemingly beat anybody in baseball right now, making the Rockies’ triumph very impressive.