June 13, 2013 Updated: June 13, 2013 at 10:55 pm
The Sky Sox again lost a key player to promotion - this one on short notice - and kept right on chugging.
Josh Rutledge was a late lineup scratch, presumably to return to the Rockies to replace the injured Troy Tulowitzki, yet the Pacific Coast League's top offense still produced four runs in the third and earned a series split against Salt Lake with a 5-4 victory in front of a crowd of 2,696 on Thursday.
"You never know who you're going to lose," said Corey Dickerson, who homered and drove in a pair. "All the guys still bonded together. We just play hard and pick each other up."
Charlie Blackmon drove in a pair in the fourth with a two-run triple before Dickerson and Matt McBride hit sacrifice flies.
Dickerson later added a solo home run and is 4-for-5 with three walks and three RBIs since moving to the No. 3 spot in the order Wednesday, as manager Glenallen Hill opted to move his hottest bat out of the leadoff position and into a run-producing spot.
"You want to be in that spot," said Dickerson, who leads the PCL with 38 extra-base hits and all of pro baseball with 12 triples. "You want to have chances to drive in runs and help the team. Luckily, I've had a few chances."
Blackmon was moved to leadoff in an effort to get a struggling hitter a few more fastballs. His triple was hit off of a fastball.
The offense has come up with the answers throughout the season, even as the likes of Nolan Arenado, D.J. LeMahieu, Tyler Colvin and Rutledge have been beckoned by the parent club. Ryan Wheeler also spent two weeks with the Rockies before returning.
The Sky Sox (36-29) entered the game leading the league in batting average, slugging, triples, total bases and OPS. None of those took a step back with Thursday's nine-hit effort.
This game did have some tension, as Salt Lake scored twice in the eighth before leaving the bases loaded. The Bees then added a run in the ninth and had two runners aboard before the game ended on a pickoff when Sky Sox catcher McBride threw behind Luke Carlin at first on a pitch in the dirt that looked like it might get away.
Colorado Springs starter Cory Riordan, on a 75-pitch limit, was impressive for four innings as he gave up one run on three hits and piled up six strikeouts with just one walk.
The official roster move to replace Tulowitzki will likely be announced Friday. The Rockies might also be in need of some outfield help depending on the severity of a Carlos Gonzalez foot injury.
Blackmon and Wheeler are both on the 40-man roster and would be the likely choices to fill that need should it present itself.
The question would then be whether or not the Sky Sox offense could make up for yet another loss. All signs to this point say it could.
For fear of heavy traffic on I-25 because of the Black Forest fire, the Sky Sox moved up their departure time by 1 + hours to 5 a.m. Friday morning for a 9:30 a.m. flight out of Denver to begin a four-game series in Las Vegas on Friday night.