Examine the expressions on Bud Black’s face in the dugout this year, and it’s clear that the Rockies’ struggles have been draining on their manager.
But Wednesday in Miami brought the skipper a ray of sunshine in a lost season. Colorado’s 4-3 victory over the Marlins at LoanDepot Park gave Black his 300th victory with Colorado in his fifth season as the team’s manager.
“It’s a good, round number, but when I think back to win No. 1 in Milwaukee (in 2017) to here tonight, I also think about the players who have gone through here who have helped the Rockies win,” Black said. “Our guys have always come to play hard, and I love that about this group.”
The only Rockies manager to lead the team to consecutive playoff berths, the 63-year old Black is now the third of the seven managers in Colorado’s 29-year history to record 300 wins with the club. The others are Don Baylor (440) and Clint Hurdle (534).
Austin Gomber catalyzed Black’s milestone victory, going five innings and allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. It was Gomber’s second-best road start of the season. Black said the southpaw “attacked the strike zone and was in control of the game early on.”
“I was in the strike zone with all four pitches,” Gomber said. “I’m in a good spot right now with my delivery, and my timing’s good right now which is why I’m able to throw all four pitches for strikes.”
With the Colorado offense averaging an anemic 2.41 runs per road game coming into Wednesday, Charlie Blackmon had the Rockies on pace to buck that trend in the first inning with an RBI single off left-hander Braxton Garrett to score Raimel Tapia. Blackmon’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak.
Colorado went up 2-0 in the third on Yonathan Daza’s RBI single that brought home Blackmon. In the fifth, having already gotten to the Miami bullpen, the Rockies tacked on another as Tapia hustled home to score on a passed ball by Sandy Leon.
The Marlins finally got to Gomber in the bottom of the fifth with Jazz Chisholm’s RBI single, making it 3-1.
The Rockies got that run back for Gomber in the next frame, when pinch-hitter Connor Joe — freshly recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque ahead of the game — had an RBI groundout to make it 4-1.
But once the game was turned over to the Colorado bullpen, the theatrics began. Adam Duvall blasted a two-out, two-run homer to left-center off right-hander Tyler Kinley, and the game tightened at 4-3.
Carlos Estevez came on for the seventh and allowed two runners to reach, one by single and one via hit by pitch. Black then lifted Estevez in favor of fellow right-hander Mychal Givens, who got Jesus Aguilar to line out to right field on a nice catch by Blackmon to end the threat and preserve the one-run lead.
“When we had to throw a strike, we did, and when we had to get an out, we did,” Black said of the bullpen.
Colorado’s bullpen continued to hold over the final two frames, with Givens working around a walk and a hit in the eighth before Daniel Bard overcame bases-loaded traffic to record his 8th save in 11 tries in the ninth. Bard got ex-Rockie Corey Dickerson to ground out to third base to finish the game.
“That last out of the game, that was not an easy play for (Ryan McMahon),” Black said. “Dickerson got out of the box quickly after he slapped it and ran, and Mac was playing a little bit deep, and he had to make a nice play and he did…. It was high-stress for our pitchers and our defenders (at the end).”
Black has 949 victories in his 14-year managerial career that began with a nine-season stint in San Diego. Only 65 managers in MLB history have reached the 1,000 victory mark.
After the game, the Rockies made sure their skipper felt the love in the clubhouse. They gave him the team’s player of the game chain, and then Blackmon pushed him in a laundry cart into the showers.
“He got to go into the shower with the cart, which is what we do when rookies get their first hit or you get your first strikeout, save or whatever,” Gomber said. “It was all in good fun, and my congratulations to him.”
Colorado is 5-23 away from Coors Field, the worst road record in the MLB.
Basket Buddy comin’ through pic.twitter.com/zIXW1wv8Bj
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) June 10, 2021