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The catch that wasn’t cost the Rockies dearly Wednesday night at Coors Field.
In the fifth inning, the Chicago Cubs loaded the bases against Jon Gray with two-out singles by Rafael Ortega and Wilson Contreras and a walk by Ian Happ. Patrick Wisdom worked the count 2-2 before he lifted Gray’s slider deep to left field.
Raimel Tapia almost made a brilliant, leaping catch against the wall — indeed the ball was in the webbing of his glove — but when his glove banged into a stanchion, the ball popped free and Wisdom had a three-run double.
And the Cubs had a 3-2 victory in LoDo.
“It was really simple,” Tapia said. “It was in my glove and when I hit the wall it came out of my glove. There’s not much to say. I feel bad, I should have had it. But at that point in the game, you don’t feel much emotion, you just have to keep going.”
Wins for opposing teams have been hard to come by at Coors Field. Colorado entered the game with a 21-8 record at Coors Field since May 21, the best home record in the majors across that span. But the Cubs made the key plays and the Rockies’ offense was mostly a no-show.
Gray — who said he pitched “OK,” but wished he had thrown a fastball to Wisdom instead of another slider — played with fire for much of the game, but his ability to get key strikeouts rescued him, until the fifth, that is. The right-hander pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. Four of his strikeouts came via his slider, the other two came on curveballs.
“I thought Jon threw the ball great,” manager Bud Black said. “Good, live fastball, good slider, a couple of good curveballs. He was just the victim of the two-out hits, then the walk to Happ, then a really good at-bat by Wisdom.”
Black added that going forward, he would like to see Gray incorporate more curveballs and changeups into his game plan. Gray agreed.
“I’m extremely pleased with the changeup, although I think I only used it once tonight,” Gray said. “I’m really liking that pitch this year. And the curve, when it’s been used, it’s used well.”
The Rockies, whose offense has sizzled at home, jumped on Cubs right-hander Alex Mills in the first, taking a 2-0 lead on back-to-back doubles by Tapia and Brendan Rodgers and an RBI groundout by Trevor Story. All told, the Rockies had four hits in the first inning.
But the crafty Mills, not overpowering but constantly changing speeds, shut Colorado down for the next five innings, scattering four hits.
“It was an assortment of off-speed pitches with a sneaky fastball that he used to both sides of the plate,” Black said. “We just couldn’t get the barrel on it. He pitched in, he pitched away. He threw a good changeup. We just couldn’t seem to solve him after the first inning.”
Ryan McMahon led off the fourth with a double but was erased when he tried to advance to third on Elias Diaz’s flyball to left. Johneshwy Fargas completed the double play with a strike to Wisdom, who easily tagged out McMahon.
Black had no problems with McMahon pushing the action to make something happen.
“I told ‘Mac,’ I thought it was a good try, a good play,” Black said. “He’s on second with nobody out and we tried to get him to third with one out. It was a deep flyball, the left fielder retreated and he had to make a great throw, which he did.
“We had the bottom of the order coming up. So I wouldn’t even say it was a gamble. I thought it was a good baseball play. The kid made a perfect throw and got ‘Mac.’ ”
The Rockies will try to win the three-game series on Thursday afternoon at Coors.