The Rockies are limping toward the finish line and it ain’t pretty.
The rebuilding Washington Nationals (65-91) beat the Rockies 5-4 on Monday night at Coors Field, extending Colorado’s losing streak to five games as all-star pitcher German Marquez’s second-half slump continued.
“I feel good, it was a great season and I stayed healthy all year and that’s the best thing to me,” said Marquez, who pitched five innings in his final start of the season to finish 12-11 with a 4.40 ERA.
The right-hander admitted that a little bit of fatigue set in September. During last year’s 60-game season, he pitched 81 2/3 innings. He finished this season with 180 innings and he said he felt the difference.
“I think it got me this month and I got a little bit tired,” Marquez said. “So the last month got me, but that’s no excuse … But next year is going to be amazing.”
At one point this season, the Rockies owned one of the best home records in the majors, but they are 1-6 on their final homestand of the season and 3-13 over their last 16 games at Coors.
The Nationals threatened to blow the game wide open in the ninth against closer Carlos Estevez. With one run already in, they loaded the bases with no outs but Estevez got the dangerous Juan Soto to pop out to shallow left field and got Josh Bell to ground into a one-two-three double play.
That set the stage for Colorado’s mini-rally in the bottom of the frame. Trevor Story drew a two-out walk off of Tanner Rainey and scored on C.J. Cron’s double into the left-field corner. But Ryan McMahon grounded out to second for the final out.
Nationals right-hander Josiah Gray, making his 12th big-league start, blanked the Rockies for five innings, allowing just two singles. He hit the wall in Colorado’s three-run sixth, but nevertheless picked up his second win of the season.
Garrett Hampson led off the sixth with a single, Charlie Blackmon and Story walked, and McMahon hit a three-run double off the center-field wall, missing a grand slam by a few feet. McMahon has hit a career-high 30 doubles, easily surpassing the 22 he hit in 2019.
Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers suffered a scary moment in the first inning when he was hit in the helmet by a 92.2 mph fastball by Gray. The Rockies announced during the game that Rodgers had passed all concussion protocols.
Gray’s pitch hit Rodgers squarely on the left side of his helmet and he quickly dropped to the ground. Rodgers was attended to by team trainers and then walked off the field, but he was removed from the game.
“I just checked on him and he’s doing fine,” manager Bud Black said after the game. “He was, clearly, a little bit scared when he was down on the ground, but then he got up. I took him out of the game right away, just for precautionary reasons.”
Lately, Marquez has hardly resembled the pitcher that posted a 3.36 ERA in his first 19 starts to earn his first trip to the All-Star Game. The Nationals tagged him for four runs on six hits and he needed 90 pitches to get by his five frames.
“I think there was some fatigue, for sure,” Black said. “His stuff was reading out fairly normal, but there might not be the crispness to it that and that’s something we can see to our basic eye a little bit.
“That’s when you have to pitch a little bit, right? You have to change speeds and maybe pitch a little bit backward. You can’t beat yourself with walks and hit by pitches. Because those things will come back to bite you, and I think that’s what happened a little bit tonight to German.”
Washington’s three-run fourth, in fact, included a walk, a hitter batter and three hits.
Marquez had a 6.38 ERA in five starts in September. In 10 starts since Aug. 1, he was 3-3 with a 6.57 ERA, after going 6-3 and posting a 2.86 ERA in 11 starts in June and July.
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