In a season that went from playoff hopes to now looking ahead to 2020, the Colorado Rockies got a ray of sunshine Wednesday afternoon.
Staring at a third straight loss and getting swept at home by Arizona, All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado came through with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to turn a potential one-run loss into a 7-6 win.
It was a little reprieve for Colorado, which had lost 28 of 37 games before Arenado's blast, and it could provide momentum for a weekend series against the Miami Marlins. The Rockies will send Jon Gray to the mound on Friday to face Miami's Sandy Alcantara in a rematch from the first weekend of the season.
Alcantara, the team's only All-Star, outdueled Gray on March 31 in a 3-0 Marlins win, pitching eight innings in what remains Alcantara's only time facing Colorado. Gray went 6 2/3 innings, giving up all three runs in a hard-luck loss.
While Alcantara (4-10, 4.44 ERA) hasn't face the Rockies otherwise, Gray has a little more seasoning against Miami; in six career starts, he is 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA.
Gray (10-8, 4.06) was scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Diamondbacks before being a late scratch due to left ankle soreness, but he is well enough to be slotted into the opener of the three-game series. He has struggled in his first two August starts, going 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 9 2/3 innings after a solid July in which he posted an ERA of 3.99.
The Rockies are hoping to ride the excitement of Wednesday's win, when Arenado hit the first pitch he saw from Arizona closer Archie Bradley down the line in left for his third walk-off homer of his career. Arenado and his teammates have been frustrated with the nearly two-month slide, and a win gave them a chance to enjoy an off day before facing Miami.
"It's been a grind for all of us individually and as a team," Arenado said after the game. "It feels good to come out with a win right there."
Miami hasn't done much winning this season, although a 13-7 triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday salvaged the final game of the three-game series. The Marlins went 3-4 on their homestand before heading to Denver with questions about what the team will look like in 2020.
Manager Don Mattingly, who is in the final season of a four-year deal, wants to stay on as manager beyond 2019, but his status is up in the air.
"I'd love to be back, especially if they want you back," Mattingly said Wednesday. "You don't want to be anywhere that you don't feel like it's the best situation. You don't want to get in the way of anything. If they think they want to go in (another) direction, then that's something you just deal with at the time."
Chief executive officer Derek Jeter said Mattingly deserves to know his future sooner rather than later, but other priorities have taken precedence so far.
"There hasn't been a decision yet," Jeter said Wednesday. "To be honest with you, we've been so focused on getting through the trade deadline and seeing what we can do.
"At the end of every year, we sit down and evaluate all members of the organization, whether it's the manager, coaches, player development, scouting, front office."
--Field Level Media