DENVER — How do you tell a ballpark full of Cubs fans to take the 'L' on the way out?
Ian Desmond’s 486-foot home run should do the trick.
“Oh, my god,” Rockies righthander German Marquez said after Desmond blasted the longest bomb in baseball this season, right into the Helton Burger stand, and put a fitting bow on Colorado’s 6-5 win at Coors Field. “I don’t have a word for it.”
Here, let’s help out the staff ace: BOOM.
"As long as it goes over the fence," Desmond said afterward, "I don't care how far it goes."
This is not a perfect Rockies team. But it’s a damn good Rockies team, and Monday night’s comeback triumph against the Cubs offered a strong summation of just how dangerous and entertaining it can be. Down 4-0 almost before a sea of Cubs fans squeezed its ample waistlines into the seats at Coors Field, the Rockies roared back. These Rockies usually do.
But for how long can it last? The methods to their madness are not sustainable. They need pitching help, and bad. Bud Black is making due with a starting rotation that’s pieced together by thoughts and prayers.
Marquez is a straight-up stud. He recovered from a three-homer third inning to strike out seven batters over six innings on a night he didn't have his grooviest stuff. After that, with Kyle Freeland on a mission in Albuquerque to find himself again, it gets dicey on a daily basis.
Yet somehow the Rockies are 12-5 in their last 17 and raking like the Blake Street Bombers. Ask the Cubs, who fell to 11-21 at Coors since 2009, even as the centerpiece of LoDo sounds more and more like Wrigley Field West.
When it’s time for the seventh-inning stretch with the Cubs in town, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” comes off as gobbledygook: “Root, root, root for the RockCubbieeees.”
But enough about the Cubs already. How about these Rox? After a 3-12 start to the season that summoned bad memories of the old Rockies, the new and improved version showed why it’s made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. They’re not perfect. But on days like Monday, they’re perfectly tough, resilient and down to party with the long ball. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and Desmond combined for home runs that measured 1,334 feet.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone would be proud.
The players mostly are doing their part. The lineup has come alive by hitting .292 since May 21, tops in the National League. The bullpen has stood strong with a 3.29 ERA since May 14. That’s second in the NL. Just about all that’s missing is starting pitching you can bank on.
Does it sound to anyone else like Black, the sly skipper, is lobbying for a little help over here?
“That’s what got us to the playoffs. This year it’s been variable,” Black said of the starting rotation prior to Monday’s first pitch. “That makes it tough. Each and every night the starting pitcher’s responsibility is to give us a chance to win the game and, you know, hang in there, until our offense does its thing. There are times when the offense takes over early and scores early.
"But over the course of 162 games the reliability and consistency of starting pitching is really the heart and soul of a club. Ours has been too variable.”
Toronto ace Marcus Stroman is all but begging for a trade out of Canada. Maybe he saw the Raptors’ collapse in Game 5 Monday night. More likely he’s aware the Jays are 23-42 and headed straight toward a handful of trade-deadline deals. Either way, Stroman would sure look good in one of those black vests the Rockies rocked as they rocked the Cubs before a packed house of 44,859.
At least one Cubbie knows what the Rockies are made of. All-timer Carlos Gonzalez, who played more games at Coors than any Rockie not named Todd Helton, returned to his old 'hood to a standing ovation that brought goosebumps. In his first game here as a visitor, CarGo went 0-for-3 and launched a bat into the Rox dugout. Not on purpose, of course. The bat slipped.
“You can do a lot of things on the baseball field, but if you’re not a good person I don’t think people are going to like you,” CarGo said. “That’s something I learned from veterans when I was a young kid. ... I am the way I am today because of the people around me.”
The people up and down and around the Rockies lineup are postseason good, again.
How 'bout a little help with the starting pitching?