For the first time this season, seven-time Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado was not in the starting lineup on Sunday when the Rockies took on the Mariners in Seattle.
His absence cost the Rockies in a 5-3 loss.
There were solid reasons for manager Bud Black’s decision to sit Arenado — the third baseman was batting just .185 after an 0-for-5 performance Saturday night in which he left six men on base — but Arenado’s glove was missed.
In Seattle’s key, three-run seventh inning, fill-in third baseman Chris Owings couldn’t quite make a play on Kyle Lewis’ infield hit — a play Arenado likely would have pulled off. Then Kyle Seager chopped a ball to Owings for a potential double play, but Owings bobbled the ball for his first error and then made a rushed, wild throw to first for his second error. That double error opened the door for a sacrifice fly by Evan White and back-to-back RBIs singles by Tim Lopes and Dee Gordon.
Before the game, Black said that Arenado “looks a little uncomfortable” in the batter’s box, and said the time was right to give Arenado a day out of the starting lineup. The two talked about the decision Saturday night.
Asked if Arenado’s slump was “in his head,” Black replied: “I think it’s more a matter of just straightening out some mechanics. He looks a little jumpy at the plate. Maybe a little overaggressive. He seems to be underneath some pitches … (hitting) some flyballs and sort of just underneath.”
Arenado has struck out only four times in 54 at-bats and he has hit three home runs in the early going. He was 0-for-14 following three consecutive games in which he homered, Aug. 3-5, and the three home runs are his only extra-base hits on the season. Arenado’s OPS is just .614 and he has produced only five RBIs out of the cleanup spot.
Arenado works constantly on his hitting and he’s a tough self-critic. Black said that’s good thing — most of the time.
“He cares a lot about this organization, and his performance,” Black said. “At times he can beat himself up. But I think I’d rather have a player that way than the other.
“So, again, he’ll come out of this, as we all know, he’ll work through this. Today, I’m sure, he’ll watch a lot of video; he’ll spend some time in a cage. There will be conversations with our hitting coaches. But today was just a good day not to play Nolan.”
Wolters sits, again. No. 1 catcher Tony Wolters did not start for the fourth consecutive game but Black said that Wolters is healthy. Black explained that Elias Díaz, who didn’t play in the first 12 games but started Sunday for the second time in three games, was a better matchup against Mariners left-hander Justus Sheffield. Diaz, however, went 0-for-3.
Chuck’s Nazty. Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double to right field in the first inning. He’s batting .551 (27-for-49) during the streak, with 12 runs scored, five doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs.
Blackmon is one of only 29 players in the “live-ball era” (1920-present) to hold a batting average above .450 after his team’s first 15 games. The last to do it was teammate Matt Kemp (with the Dodgers in 2012). Blackmon’s .458 average is tied with Willie Mays (1960) for the 21st-highest batting average in the first 15 games.
Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (1-2, 9.45 ERA) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (0-1, 3.31)
6:40 p.m. Monday, Coors Field
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Gray is still looking for his first win, despite pitching pretty well, and despite the fact that opponents are batting just .194 against him. He is returning to Coors Field, where he owns a career record of 25-11 with a 4.34 ERA. His .694 home winning percentage is second in franchise history to Jorge De La Rosa’s .726 clip (53-20) among pitchers with 50 or more starts in Denver. Gray, however, is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in five starts at home vs. Arizona. Ray tweaked his delivery in the offseason and the results have not been pretty so far. He allowed six runs over five innings in his last start Houston, but Ray came away encouraged. “Results aside, I feel like my last outing was a big step forward. I feel like I’m starting to piece it together,” Ray told reporters. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado has blistered Ray, batting .341 (14-for-41) with three home runs and a 1.160 OPS. Charlie Blackmon owns Ray, too: .435 (20-for-46) with five homers and a 1.284 OPS.
Trending: Charlie Blackmon went 2-for-3 Sunday, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s batting 27-for-51 (.529) with five doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs over the streak.
At issue: The Rockies need more production from the bottom of their order. The last four hitters in the starting lineup went a combined 0-for-15 with six strikeouts in the 5-3 loss at Seattle.
- Tuesday: Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.81) at Rockies Kyle Freeland (2-0, 2.41), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
- Wednesday: Diamondback RHP Luke Weaver (0-3, 12.19) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.65), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
- Thursday: Off