DENVER — It was not the playoffs, and the Rockies aren’t going to pretend that it was. But a Tuesday night matchup against the Dodgers, who are chasing a NL West title, is the closest the Rockies are going to get this year.
The Dodgers entered Tuesday one game behind the Giants, and the 23,869 fans in attendance at Coors Field overwhelmingly sported blue. They grew louder and louder under the crisp almost-fall sky, easily outmatching the home team’s crowd.
The Rockies were able to quiet their cheers at times, but it was the Dodgers who came out on top after 10 innings 5-4. The Rockies, aiming to play spoiler in their division, will have to wait a night. The tough tests though continue all week, as they have two more games against the Dodgers, followed by three against the Giants this week.
"The goal and expectation is to win baseball games," manager Bud Black said. "Today was hard fought on both sides. ... They got us out at the end."
The Rockies sent out probably the best lineup they can put together right now, but snuck one rookie, Ryan Vilade, into the eighth spot. Half of their lineup has never played in the playoffs or been in contention, making this another prime opportunity to gain experience in high-stakes late-season games. They were 4 for 20 with runners in scoring position though, and could never get the big hit when they needed it.
The night started in a pitchers' duel, with neither starter giving up a hit until the fourth inning. The Rockies pounced first, thanks to back-to-back RBI doubles from Charlie Blackmon and CJ Cron, the two veterans.
It seemed like it was going to be one of those magical nights for Antonio Senzatela, who has recorded a quality start in his last seven outings, the longest streak by a Rockies pitcher since 2018. His pitch count was low in the beginning, keeping it at 41 after four innings.
But then the Dodgers, down 2-0 in the top of the fifth, had four hits off Senzatela to drive in two runs to tie the game. They added two more an inning later in the sixth before Senzatela was removed.
"They bunched some hits together," Black said. "I thought overall Senza threw the ball well."
The Rockies responded, scoring two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, again on back-to-back RBI doubles, this time from Cron and Elias Díaz. Cron finished with three hits.
The score remained tied 4-4 after nine, and headed off to extras, where the Dodgers placed Gavin Lux on second as their extra runner. Albert Pujols then singled on a sharp ground ball to center to send Lux home for the lead.
The Rockies couldn't respond in the bottom of the 10th. They'll get another chance on Wednesday to play spoiler.
"It’s big because they are at the top of division right now," Senzatela said. "We want to win."