Austin Gomber struggles again, Rockies lose second straight to Rangers
Too little, too late, too familiar.
Too little, too late, too familiar.
Yep, the Rockies lost on the road again Tuesday night, falling 4-3 to Texas at Globe Life Field.
The Rockies took two of three games from the mighty Dodgers in Los Angeles over the weekend, but that feels like California dreamin’ now. They have now lost two in a row to the Rangers, who own a 47-85 record. The Rockies, meanwhile, slid to 17-50 on the road.
Rangers journeyman right-hander Jordan Lyles, the former Rockie, who entered the game with a 5.70 ERA, morphed into Greg Maddux — at least for six innings. His only blemish was a solo homer by Sam Hilliard in the third.
Hilliard, a native of nearby Mansfield, Texas, hit his first big-league homer in his home state. He did in front of a large contingent of friends and family.
“I haven’t had much success in the state of Texas in the big leagues, at this point in my career,” he said. “So it felt good to finally get one tonight and run around those bases for the first time, in front of my family. It was special. I couldn’t hear them or anything, but I know they were going crazy. It was an awesome feeling.”
In the seventh inning, Colorado’s dormant finally offense stirred. Lyles had set down 12 hitters in a row until C.J. Cron hit an opposite-field, solo homer to right, his 11th homer and 34th RBI in August. Then Ryan McMahon followed up with another solo blast to right. Suddenly, Colorado had cut Texas’ lead to 4-3 and Lyles had served up his 36th homer of the season, the most in the American League.
But that was the end of Colorado’s surge.
Colorado left-hander Austin Gomber struggled again. In 4 1/3 innings, he gave up four runs on four hits, including two home runs: a leadoff shot homer by Nathaniel Lowe in the second and a leadoff blast by Leody Taveras in the fourth.
More disconcerting, Gomber walked six. The precision he showed earlier this season has deserted him. How precise was he before? From the fourth inning on May 29 to the second inning on July 21, he pitched 23 innings without issuing a walk, which was the longest such streak in Rockies history by a starter.
“It was a lack of command and control,” manager Bud Black said. “I thought his stuff was fine. His velocity was fine, his curveball had good action, and his slider was fine. And I thought he threw some good changeups in the first two innings. But it sort of went downhill with two outs in the third.”
That’s when Gomber gave up three walks, as well as an RBI single to Lowe, over the next four at-bats.
“I’m grinding a little bit right now, trying to figure it out,” Gomber said. “I don’t feel like I’m that far off. It wasn’t like I was spraying all over the place. The majority of the walks were on long at-bats, and I was just missing on a 3-2 pitch.”
Gomber, who’s been so good at Coors Field (nine starts, 2.09 ERA, five homers allowed) has really struggled on the road (14 starts, 5.97 ERA, 15 homers).
Roster expansion. Big-league teams can expand their roster from 26 to 28 players on Wednesday. Right-handed pitcher Peter Lambert, who’s coming back from Tommy John surgery last summer, is a possibility. So is lefty Ryan Rolison, though he’s not currently on the 40-man roster.
The Rockies have indicated that they could go to a six-man rotation for the final weeks of the season to give their regular starters a rest.
September used to be the time for teams to call up multiple prospects (up to 40 on a roster) so they could get a taste of the big leagues and give the big-league team a chance to evaluate them.
That’s changed now, but the Triple-A season runs the same length as the major league season, making it possible for teams to recall and option players throughout September.
Gray on track. Right-hander Jon Gray had no issue with his tight right foreman during his bullpen session on Tuesday. Manager Bud Black said he expects Gray to make his scheduled start against the Braves on Thursday at Coors Field.
“Once he realized that he felt good, there were no issues with the forearm, and he worked on his pitches,” Black said. “We worked on fastball command, a consistent delivery, a consistent arm slot. He spun some curveballs and worked on his changeup.”
Boo birds. Black was asked Tuesday about the controversy in New York on Sunday when Mets players Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar displayed a thumbs-down gesture to the fans after the players got hits. The players were reacting to the cascade of boos the struggling Mets have heard this month.
“I haven’t seen it or really read much about it,” Black said. “My initial thought when I heard it was that if Mets players had it to do over again, and rethink it, they would probably not do it.”
Asked if he’d ever been booed during his 15-year career as a major league pitcher, Black chuckled and said: “Yes, I’ve been booed as a player. I’ve been booed as a pitching coach and I’ve been booed as manager. And you’ve heard me talk about when I come home my wife (Nan) boos me.”
Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (5-6, 4.17 ERA) at Rangers RHP Kohei Arihara (2-3, 6.59)
12:05 p.m. Wednesday, Globe Life Field
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Freeland is facing the Rangers for the third time in his career. Across the first two starts, the lefty was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA, eight strikeouts and four walks. Freeland has been very sharp in his last 12 outings, going 5-4 with a 2.57 ERA, striking out 68 and walking just 12. He’s coming off a gem at Los Angeles where he held the Dodgers to two runs on six hits. He struck out seven and walked none. Arihara is expected to be activated from the injured list Wednesday and make his eighth start of the season. He was placed on the 10-day injured list May 9 with a bruised right middle finger but was transferred to the 60-day IL on May 26 after undergoing right shoulder surgery to repair an aneurysm. His last start for the Rangers was in a 9-8 win over Seattle on May 8. He got a no-decision, allowing five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. Arihara has never faced the Rockies. He is winless (0-2, 11.32) in three starts at Globe Life Field, with opponents batting .326.
Trending: Entering Tuesday night’s game, Charlie Blackmon’s 12.7% strikeout rate was the seventh-lowest in the majors and the lowest for any full season in his career.
At issue: Outfielder Sam Hilliard is still searching for his swing. He entered Tuesday’s game hitting 3-for-18 (.166) on the current road trip with nine strikeouts. His strikeout rate for the season is 38.2%.
Thursday: Braves RHP Huascar Ynoa (4-4, 2.90) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (7-10, 4.13), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Friday: Braves RHP Ian Anderson (6-5, 3.36) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-9, 4.18), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM