ROCKIES

Call-up pitcher helps Rockies continue home mastery of MLB’s best

May 27, 2024, 5:08 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm

Josh Rogers Colorado Rockies...

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies spent the weekend taking two of three from the finest team in Major League Baseball so far this season, the Philadelphia Phillies. Their encore Monday was defeating the team that had the American League’s best record.

Their 8-6 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Monday was perhaps the most unlikely win of their recent strong run of form at home, which has seen the Rockies win seven of their last eight games at Coors Field.

That’s because it came with starter Austin Gomber scratched due to arm soreness, leaving the Rockies’ mound hopes in the hands of an MLB-worst bullpen and journeyman Josh Rogers, who got the win with 5 strong innings in relief.

Rogers was called up Monday to be a long man in relief. He arrived toting a 5.44 ERA in AAA this season. That was an improvement from last year, when he had an 8.02 ERA over 30 appearances for the Rockies’ AAA affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“Last year, I had a ton of big innings. I would give up 6, 7, 8 (runs),” Rogers said. “Coming into this year, it was like, ‘How do I minimize the damage when there’s traffic out there?’ Minimize the long ball and just not get those big, crooked numbers in those innings.

“And I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that this year so far.”

Rogers entered in the bottom of the second inning and delivered 5 innings of 4-hit, 2-run ball, earning his first major-league win since May 2022.

“He threw strikes, changed speeds, moved the fastball around,” manager Bud Black said. “We needed that.

“He was the key to the game.”

And he got the win against a Cleveland team that came into Denver riding a 9-game winning streak.

Colorado started Anthony Molina, and he struggled, allowing a hit, 3 walks and a hit batter in 1 2/3 inning of work before turning over a 2-on, 2-out mess to Rogers, who struck out Andrés Giménez on five pitches to get out of the second. That seemed to settle the entire team.

“If I can continue to throw strikes, eat innings and give us a chance,” Rogers said, “that’s all I can ask for.”

Rogers did that Monday, and it bought time for the Rockies to awaken at the plate.

CHARLIE BLACKMON LED A ROCKIES OUTBURST

They exploded with a 6-run fourth inning, with Charlie Blackmon delivering the massive blow with a 3-run blast over the right-field fence. Blackmon also added two doubles.

Rogers got some help in the field, as well. His 1-2-3 sixth inning happened thanks to gems from shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and Blackmon, working in right field instead of as a designated hitter.

Tovar got the first out with a diving stop of a David Fry grounder, delivering an off-balance, two-hop throw to Elehuris Montero to get the out. Five pitches later, it was Blackmon’s turn, as he chased down a Kyle Manzardo fly ball down the right-field line, making a sliding catch just in front of the stands for the second out.

“How about those two plays back-to-back?” Black said.

One pitch later, Rogers induced a 5-to-3 groundout from an 80-mph sweeper, and the Rockies emerged unscathed.

Rogers ran into a spot of bother in the top of the seventh inning, allowing Bo Naylor to single to center field before hitting Cleveland’s Brayan Rocchio with an 81-mph, 2-1 slider. Bud Black had fire-balling reliever Victor Vodnik warming up, but elected to leave Rogers in, and he elicted two harmless fly balls before Black emerged from the dugout to end Rogers’ day.

Vodnik immediately conceded a double to Cleveland star José Ramírez, scoring Bo Naylor from second base. But he stopped the damage there, as Josh Naylor lined out to Tovar, ending the threat.

Returning for the eighth inning, Vodnik delivered a scoreless frame.

Matters got hairy in the ninth inning, but Jalen Beeks managed to get the save despite allowing a run and bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Ramírez and Josh Naylor. But Beeks delivered a strikeout and induced a pop-up to end the threat and allow Colorado to escape.

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Call-up pitcher helps Rockies continue home mastery of MLB’s best