The Colorado Rockies 13-9 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers signified two important milestones. The team broke a 12-game losing streak against the NL-West leading Dodgers, and closed out a high scoring game during the ninth inning at home.
The 12-game losing streak was the second longest in franchise history against one team, four shy of the expansion Rockies who lost the first 16 games in franchise-history against Atlanta.
Players and coaches downplayed the victory, but it is safe to say that it was a monkey off the team’s back.
Dodgers ace and NL Cy Young favorite Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t have an impressive history at Coors Field coming into the game, but his 2019 record of 9-1 and 1.27 ERA couldn’t be ignored. Of all games to beat the Dodgers, Friday didn’t seem the most likely.
The Rockies offense ensured that the unlikely would come to fruition. They kept up their torrid scoring pace and handed Ryu one of the worst losses of his career. He gave up a career-high seven earned runs. The fact that Ryu started on the mound in the Rockies victory only made the win sweeter.
Rockies manager Bud Black felt that the team executed a “good plan going in against one of the best pitchers in the National League.”
The offense finished with a total of 18 hits spread amongst eight players.
“It's a big win,” said Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. “We have a chance to win the series. It's a great feeling. We try not to look towards past games, (but) obviously we knew that we haven’t won one in a while against them, so it feels good. It was a pretty draining game (I’m) just happy we came out on the right side.
Arenado, who went 4-5 with two RBI and a home run said that playing a team the caliber of Dodgers brings out the best in himself and his teammates.
Black seemed excited about the win but was focused on if the Rockies could build on the victory during Saturday's matchup.
Colorado held a 13-9 lead heading into the ninth inning. Usually, a four-run lead in the ninth inning is pretty safe, but for the Rockies and Coors Field, margins such as that have been anything but a given as of late.
Recent ninth-inning collapses come to mind, like the two against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field the last homestand, and at Dodger Stadium last weekend when the Dodgers became the first team ever to have a different rookie providing the game-ending blow in a walk-off.
“At this point, I feel like I'm kind of numb to what happens on that field,” said Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg. “There's nothing but craziness sometimes (at Coors Field).”
The fact that the Rockies have scored and allowed at least eight runs in their last five home games is proof of this.
The Dodgers had also outscored the Rockies 10-0 in their last four meetings during the ninth inning.
Oberg finished the Dodgers off with a confident and efficient performance in the role of closer. He forced ground outs against Chris Taylor and Russel Martin before striking out Edwin Rio. Oberg worked his slider and fastball, with the latter being especially effective.
It was his fifth appearance in six games for the Rockies. Oberg isn’t usually the closer, but a depleted bullpen thrust him into the position.
“Nothing really changes from a mindset standpoint,” Oberg said of playing as the closer. “(I try and) go out and attack and try and be on good counts.”
Prior to the game Oberg spoke with Black and let him know that his body felt up to pitch despite his recent usage.
“It (body) was good enough to get through today. I knew we were a little short-handed, and I felt better than I expected,” Oberg said. “At the end of the day the team got a win and that's really all that matters.”
Oberg wasn’t credited with a save because the Rockies lead was four runs, but nonetheless, his 11-pitch performance was a welcome sight for Rockies fans that have grown accustomed to blown leads and trouble closing out games.
“That's how he's been pitching,” Black said, “He's been pretty efficient and that’s why we ran him out there today.”
Prior to the game, Black said he and his staff were contemplating making a change at the backend of the bullpen, due to Wade Davis’s recent struggles.
Oberg has proved to be the most consistent pitcher in the Rockies bullpen and would be the logical choice should a move be made.
The 29-year-old pitcher will get some much-needed rest for the remainder of the series, so it may be some time before a decision regarding the closer is made. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Oberg finds himself closing out more games for the Rockies down the stretch.
Either way, Black can rest assured that Oberg will consistently perform whenever he is played.
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s hard to credit one win in a 162-game season as monumental, but Friday's victory was definitely a long time coming.
The Rockies remain 12 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, but the victory gives them a chance to win the series and swing momentum in their favor heading into the All-Star break.