CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Rox finish final homestand with sweep of D-backs

Ynoa leads potent offense with three RBIs and Cuddyer homers

Rox finish final homestand with sweep of D-backs play video for Rox finish final homestand with sweep of D-backs

DENVER -- Dominating at home has been manager Walt Weiss' objective since Day 1 on the job. And while it's easy to call it too little too late, the Rockies at least ended their season at Coors Field on the right note Sunday.

The Rockies topped the D-backs, 8-3, on Sunday to complete the four-game sweep of Arizona and extend their winning streak to six games. The win also pushes the Rockies record to 17-5 over their last three homestands to close out 2014.

Colorado cruised out to a 6-0 lead in the first five innings as four different players logged RBIs. Brandon Barnes and Rafael Ynoa each had two-run doubles in that span with the latter of the two coming in the first at-bat after Randall Delgado took over for Wade Miley.

After the D-backs got two back in the sixth from Mark Trumbo's homer off right-hander Christian Bergman, the Rockies rallied for two more in the seventh, including a solo homer from Michael Cuddyer.

Trumbo's blast produced the only runs Bergman would allow but it also put an end to his effective outing with two outs in the sixth. He finished his day striking out three without issuing a walk to collect his third career win.

Nos. 4 through 8 in the Rockies order did most of the damage against Miley and company, combining to go 10-for-18 with seven RBIs.

Miley only lasted 4 1/3 for Arizona, surrendering six runs on eight hits and four walks.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Weiss disappointed with Rockies' home record

Weiss disappointed with Rockies' home record play video for Weiss disappointed with Rockies' home record

DENVER -- Over their last three homestands entering Sunday, the Rockies have compiled a 16-5 record. A sweep of the D-backs would give the team a 45-36 home record to finish the year. But for manager Walt Weiss, that's not taking advantage of the Coors Field nearly enough.

"I think early on we were good here," Weiss said. "And as the season went south, it went south here too. It wasn't as much of an advantage playing at home … I mean, we were OK. But we've got to be a lot better than OK."

Weiss said the Rockies need to win a "minimum of 50 games" at Coors Field "to even be in the conversation for the division." Ideally, he's looking for a home win total of something closer to "52 to 53" per season.

To put that into perspective, the Rockies franchise record for home wins is 55, set back in 1996. Overall, the Rockies have only reached the 50-win mark at home four times, two of which came during the team's most recent Wild Card seasons (2007 and 2009).

Weiss said the goal is to be "offensively overwhelming teams" at Coors Field, something the Rockies have done over their past five home games while outscoring the opposition 53-16.

"The opposing pitcher, for the most part, feels vulnerable here," Weiss said. "That's one of the biggest advantages for us offensively … They don't like to pitch here and we've got to be able to take advantage of that."

In June, the Rockies were the ones being taken advantage of at home. Over their 16 home games in that month, Colorado was outscored 120-89.

Weiss knows that's unacceptable if his team is going to have a chance.

"We've got to be playing at the highest level here for the span of six months to be a playoff team," Weiss said.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Ynoa seizing his Major League opportunity

Ynoa seizing his Major League opportunity play video for Ynoa seizing his Major League opportunity

DENVER -- When you spend nine seasons in the Minors, you better not waste your big league chance when you get it.

Rafael Ynoa falls into that category, and he certainly has taken advantage of his opportunity. If you need proof, just look at his inside-the-park homer attempt in Friday's 15-3 win over the D-backs.

Unfortunately, D-backs shortstop Chris Owings ended up gunning him out on the relay throw, forcing Ynoa to settle for a two-run triple. But the all-out effort was there -- so much so that Ynoa incorrectly tried to call time following the tag by D-backs catcher Miguel Montero.

"He should have called time right after [third-base coach Stu Cole] starting sending him," manager Walt Weiss said. "I told him his legs are way too short to run that far."

What Ynoa isn't short on is versatility -- and that aspect of his game has made quite the impression on Weiss so far.

Friday's 4-for-5 performance, which included two doubles and three RBIs, brought Ynoa's average up to .417 (15-for-36) in the 11 games since his Major League debut on Sept. 1. He's done it all -- bouncing around the diamond between second, shortstop and third, where he made his second straight start on Saturday.

"He's been a good pickup for us," Weiss said. "He's come up here and taken advantage of the opportunity, especially with Nolan [Arenado] being down."

Ynoa also offers something the Rockies have lacked all season: a switch-hitter.

In his debut, Ynoa became only the fourth switch-hitter since 1974 to get hits from both sides of the plate in his first two big league at-bats. This backs up the ability he displayed in the Minors at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, as he batted .309 (102-for-330) as a left-handed hitter and .288 (38-for-132) as a right-handed hitter.

Weiss compared Ynoa to Jonathan Herrera on Saturday, another switch-hitting utility man who carved out a nice niche in five seasons with the Rockies. If Ynoa keeps it up, he'll make a strong case to be a part of the Rockies' bench next season.

"He gives us some versatility," Weiss said. "We didn't know a whole lot about him when he came to Spring Training. But our pro scouts did a really good job finding him. He went down and had a nice year for us in Triple-A. He played really well toward the end of the season to put himself in the mix."

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["replay" ] }

D-backs lose challenge on play at first

D-backs lose challenge on play at first play video for D-backs lose challenge on play at first

DENVER -- In the midst of a losing streak on the field, the D-backs also lost a manager's challenge in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.

With one out and a runner on second, D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock hit a hard grounder to the left of third baseman Rafael Ynoa. Ynoa made a nice diving stop, but first baseman Michael Cuddyer had to dive to his right to field Ynoa's throw.

First base umpire Bill Miller ruled that Cuddyer was able to keep his foot on the bag and Pollock was out.

Pollock immediately jumped in the air and motioned for D-backs manager Kirk Gibson to come out and challenge the call.

A review ruled that the call would stand.

Mark Trumbo followed up the decision with a two-run homer to right that pulled the D-backs to within 6-2.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Butler stymies D-backs to pick up first win

Rookie allows one run over six; Dickerson, Rutledge drive in two apiece

Butler stymies D-backs to pick up first win play video for Butler stymies D-backs to pick up first win

DENVER -- Although Saturday certainly had the feel of a do-over for Eddie Butler, they don't give out mulligans for Major League debuts. That didn't stop the Rockies' right-hander from taking advantage of his second chance.

Butler looked the part of the Rockies' No. 2-ranked prospect in a 5-1 victory over the D-backs at Coors Field, as he secured his first Major League win in his second career start.

"It was a nice bounceback after having one start and missing a lot of time," manager Walt Weiss said. "Going out there today and putting us in a position to win the game, he did a nice job."

Butler's first crack at the rotation came on June 6. But after surrendering six runs on 10 hits to the Dodgers in 5 1/3 innings, he landed on the disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation. The Rockies then decided to send Butler back down to Double-A Tulsa to continue to hone his craft, before recalling him earlier this week.

The extra fine-tuning apparently paid off in a big way, as Butler baffled the D-backs for six innings, scattering five hits and a walk. One of those hits was a solo homer by Jake Lamb. It would end up being the only run Butler would allow over 81 pitches.

"I wasn't quite as anxious," Butler said. "[Catcher Michael McKenry] had a good game plan, and I just followed him around all day."

Butler was aggressive early and often against Arizona, attacking in with his two-seamer while elevating the occasional four-seam fastball.

"He mixed it up, and I don't think we made some adjustments we needed to make," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Gotta give him credit."

Corey Dickerson gave the rookie some run support in the first, as his two-out triple scored Justin Morneau. Dickerson would also blast a solo shot in the fifth for his team-leading 24th homer. He finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Josh Rutledge homered off D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill in the third, as the Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Cahill struck out eight, while walking none, during his five innings of work. But the Rockies reached him for five runs on 10 hits -- including six of the extra-base variety.

The win moved the Rockies' record to 16-5 over their last three homestands. It also put the team two games ahead of the D-backs in the race to stay out of the National League West cellar, a small "consolation" for Weiss in an otherwise frustrating season.

"Any way you slice it, it's not going to be a very good season," Weiss said. "But we talked about just playing to the finish line and playing to the last out in L.A. And that's what guys are doing. It's good to see."

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Rockies chasing walk-off history in 2014

Colorado just one short of club's single-season record 10 walk-off victories

Rockies chasing walk-off history in 2014 play video for Rockies chasing walk-off history in 2014

DENVER -- Believe it or not, the 2014 Rockies are gunning for a franchise record when it comes to walk-off wins.

Wilin Rosario's towering, two-run walk-off homer in Thursday's 7-6 win over the D-backs gave the Rockies nine walk-off victories on the season. That's one shy of tying a franchise record set by the 2010 Rockies, who had 10 walk-off victories on nine hits and a sacrifice fly.

To put that number in perspective, 15 percent of the Rockies' 62 wins this season entering Friday have been of the walk-off variety.

Best-case scenario, the Rockies can finish with a 71-91 record this season. The 2010 squad that owns the walk-off record finished four games over .500 (83-79).

Three of the Rockies' walk-offs this season have come in September as Charlie Blackmon and Drew Stubbs each hit walk-off singles this month.

Rosario's walk-off homer -- the first of his career -- traveled an estimated 447 feet, landing on the left-field concourse.

As manager Walt Weiss put it, the blast went about "as high as it went far." But even with its pop fly-esque trajectory, Weiss knew it was a no-doubter.

"The way it came off the bat, I knew the park wasn't going to hold it," Weiss said Friday.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Arenado might not play again this season

Third baseman fighting to overcome effects of pneumonia

Arenado might not play again this season play video for Arenado might not play again this season

DENVER -- Energy is a trademark of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, a can't-sit-still 23-year-old who should win his second Rawlings Gold Glove Award this season and has emerged as an offensive force. But pneumonia has zapped him of his energy, so much that it's unlikely he'll play again this season.

Arenado left Sunday's game at St. Louis with a chest contusion, but an MRI and CT scan also revealed the early onset of pneumonia in addition to the bruise. Arenado returned to the Rockies' clubhouse Thursday to pack some gear. Arenado wants to go on the final 2014 road trip, to San Diego and Los Angeles next week, and would like to play, but not at further risk to his health.

"I felt awful -- I'd never felt like that," Arenado said. "It's one thing after another. I want to be out there. I don't like being sick. I don't like not being part of a team. But at the same time this is important; I've got to make sure I don't risk anything. This is not something to mess around with."

Numerous injuries have helped ruin the Rockies' season, Arenado's fractured middle finger on May 3 seemed to be the one that broke the club. Colorado was 26-23 when the injury occurred, but went 10-27 while Arenado was on the disabled list. After Arenado returned, he did a credible job in a lineup that has been missing Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, and at times Michael Cuddyer and National League batting leader Justin Morneau. Arenado has a .287 batting average with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in 111 games, and has a .328 on-base percentage and just 58 strikeouts in 432 at-bats.

Manager Walt Weiss believes if Arenado can mitigate any risk to his health going into the offseason, that's more important than pushing him back onto the field.

"It's not like we need to get another look at Nolan," Weiss said. "If that's the case, it's not a big deal. It's just always nice for a guy being on the field when the season is over and going to the offseason having played.

"It's going to zap him for a while. Even when he feels like he's ready to go, he's going to be short-winded out here for few days. So that probably takes us right up to the end of the season."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Cuddyer's 7 RBIs help Rockies roll

Ynoa has four hits, Rosario drives in two as Colorado cruises

Cuddyer's 7 RBIs help Rockies roll play video for Cuddyer's 7 RBIs help Rockies roll

DENVER -- The Rockies may be eliminated from playoff contention, but they still have some unfinished business to take care of this September. And on Friday, they crossed two goals off their list as Michael Cuddyer reached a new personal best.

The Rockies dropped the D-backs, 15-3, Friday night at Coors Field behind Cuddyer's career-high seven RBIs to move out of last place in the National League West for the first time since July 13. The win also ensures the Rockies remain as one of the two Major League franchises -- along with the Angels -- without a 100-loss season on their resume.

All seven of Cuddyer's RBIs came on two swings: a grand slam in the sixth and a three-run double in the eighth.

"That doesn't happen without the good at-bats in front of me," Cuddyer said. "It's not very often that you come up twice with the bases loaded -- especially in back-to-back at-bats."

Cuddyer, 35, has missed more than two months this season between two hamstring injuries and a fractured left shoulder socket. But when he's been on the field, the 2013 NL Batting Champion has been a force to be reckoned with.

In his last six games including Friday's 3-for-5 performance, Cuddyer is batting 12-for-25 with six doubles, two homers, nine runs scored and nine RBI.

"He's been hurt all year but when he's been out there, he's shown he's still an elite hitter in this game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's probably one of those guys who will be able to hit until he's 50."

After Cuddyer took Eury De La Rosa deep for the eighth grand slam of his career, he stepped to the plate against Joe Paterson looking to become only the 14th player in Major League history with two grand slams in a game. He settled for a bases-clearing double.

"I'd be lying if [I said] I didn't think about it," Cuddyer said. "Any time you come up with the bases loaded a grand slam pops up in your head ... In both cases, I was fortunate enough to get a pitch up."

D-backs right-hander Chase Anderson came into the final start of his rookie season having held the Rockies to one run over six innings in each of his three previous starts against them.

Entering with a 3-0 record against Colorado, the Rockies knocked him around for six runs on nine hits in five innings.

Rafael Ynoa ended the fifth inning -- and Anderson's night -- by just missing an inside-the-park home run on a ball that rattled around near the out-of-town scoreboard long enough to score two. Ynoa finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Wilin Rosario followed up Thursday night's walk off homer with a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance, extending his hitting streak to a season-best seven games.

Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles loaded the bases by allowing three singles in the first but buckled down to limit the D-backs to just one run in the frame. He'd end up going a full six innings for his third straight start, scattering nine hits for just two runs to push his record to 7-3.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["replay" ] }

Out call stands after home-plate review

Crew checks collision rule on Ynoa's two-run triple in fifth inning

Out call stands after home-plate review play video for Out call stands after home-plate review

DENVER -- Inside-the-park home runs are hard to come by. So when Rockies third baseman Rafael Ynoa had his chance at one Friday night vs. the D-backs, the officiating crew wanted to make sure they got the call right.

With two on and two outs in the fifth inning, Ynoa rocketed D-backs right-hander Chase Anderson's 2-1 offering into the right-field corner. Corey Dickerson and Wilin Rosario came around to score easily enough, but as the ball continued to rattle around near the out-of-town scoreboard, Ynoa was waved through for the inside-the-park attempt.

Ynoa certainly appeared to have a chance before right fielder Cody Ross connected with second baseman Chris Owings on a well-timed relay throw to get Ynoa out at home.

After Miguel Montero applied the tag for the final out of the inning, crew chief Bill Miller initiated a review to confirm that the D-backs' catcher wasn't illegally blocking the plate.

Following a 1-minute, 34-second review, the call on Rule 7.13 stood and the inning ended with the Rockies leading, 6-1.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Rosario ignites Rockies' ninth-inning celebration

Launches two-out, two-run homer to complete comeback victory

Rosario ignites Rockies' ninth-inning celebration play video for Rosario ignites Rockies' ninth-inning celebration

DENVER -- When Wilin Rosario saw Addison Reed's hanging slider, he "knew the ball was going to fly." What he didn't know was how good it would feel to tee off on a season's worth of frustrations.

Rosario walked the Rockies off, 7-6, with a towering, two-run shot Thursday to complete a five-run comeback against the D-backs at Coors Field. The Rockies' third straight win over a division foe moved them into a tie with the D-backs for the worst record in the National League.

Trailing 6-5, it appeared the Rockies were going to strand Corey Dickerson after he led off the ninth with a single off the bench as Reed got the next two to fly out.

That's when Rosario, having already extended his hit streak to six games, stepped to the plate.

The catcher known as "The Baby Bull" hasn't had it easy this season, landing on the disabled list twice, including an early May stint that saw him lose nine pounds from a case of the flu. His power has noticeably suffered since with just 11 homers after leaving the yard a combined 49 times in the previous two seasons.

But on the first pitch with the game on the line, he did what he did best, leaving no doubt on a 447-foot moonshot that landed on the left-field concourse.

"In that situation, you only have one option: try to hit the ball hard and see what happens," Rosario said after finishing 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

And as Rosario reached for the sky to signal for a touchdown, Reed knew what he had done.

"A terrible slider," Reed said of the deciding pitch. "A hanging slider, probably higher than belt-high. I made one mistake to Rosario and the outcome didn't turn out the way I wanted it to."

Rosario's first career walk-off homer bailed out the Rockies' bullpen after a miserable sixth inning.

Held to a strict pitch count, Yohan Flande matched D-backs left-hander Vidal Nuno pitch for pitch before being pulled after allowing two runs on two hits in five innings.

With the Rockies trailing, 2-1, right-hander Tommy Kahnle came on and let the game slip away.

Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before Aaron Hill drew a five-pitch free pass to end Kahnle's night.

Right-hander Matt Belisle did his best to bail Kahnle out, but Cody Ross' sacrifice fly and a two-run single from Jordan Pacheco built the D-backs' lead up to 6-1.

The Rockies got two back in the sixth as Brandon Barnes and Charlie Culberson each drove in runs off Nuno, who wound up departing with seven strikeouts against three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Colorado crept closer in the eighth as four of five Rockies registered hits to begin the inning before Zeke Spruill was pulled. But after right-hander Will Harris came on and plunked pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon, he was able to get Josh Rutledge to fly out to right to end the threat.

Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins earned the win in his 996th career appearance following a 1-2-3 ninth. Michael Cuddyer finished the evening 3-for-5 with three runs scored, including one on a second-inning solo shot that put the Rockies on the board.

Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Rockies moving Triple-A, Double-A affiliates

DENVER -- The Rockies announced changes in affiliates on Wednesday, shifting their Triple-A affiliate to Albuquerque and moving their Double-A affiliate to New Britain, Conn.

The Albuquerque Isotopes were affiliated with the Dodgers, who on Wednesday purchased the Oklahoma City franchise as their Triple-A affiliate.

Although the Rockies have spent 22 years in Colorado Springs, they have some history in Albuquerque. They played exhibitions at 11,124-seat Isotopes Park before the 2005 and '06 seasons. Rockies officials like the stadium, which opened in '03, and through negotiations have developed a working relationship with the franchise operators -- among them managing partner Ken Young and general manager John Traub.

Colorado Springs was convenient, at a little more than an hour from Denver, but Albuquerque is only an hour and a half away by plane.

The Double-A affiliation began to change Wednesday, when the Tulsa Drillers, who made the Texas League Championship Series as a Rockies affiliate before losing to Midland, announced a two-year player development contract with the Dodgers. The Dodgers left Chattanooga. The Twins, who previously had their Double-A franchise in New Britain, reached an agreement to move to Chattanooga.

It's not the first time the Rockies have been affiliated with a Connecticut team at Double-A. New Haven was the team's farm club from 1994-98.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Vying for batting title, Morneau proves he's healthy

Vying for batting title, Morneau proves he's healthy play video for Vying for batting title, Morneau proves he's healthy

DENVER -- Justin Morneau heard all the doubters. But he knew better. Morneau had suffered concussions in 2010 and '11, endured a left wrist injury during the 2011 season and then had neck surgery shortly thereafter. His production the past couple of years wasn't up to his standards, and there was talk that he was done.

Morneau wouldn't listen. He knew he could still play, and he was confident he could. Morneau went on the free-agent market last winter and signed a two-year deal with the Rockies. He's spent this summer proving the skeptics wrong.

"The last three years, I don't think I could have kept playing if I didn't believe I was capable to play well," Morneau said. "I'm not someone who is going to come out here just to get paid. I love to compete."

Morneau has been a feel-good story in a subpar Rockies season.

While Colorado is looking to avoid the first 100-loss season in franchise history, Morneau is putting the finishing touches on a comeback season that he can cap off with a batting title for the first time in his career.

A four-time All-Star, Morneau won the American League MVP Award in 2006, finished runner-up in '08 and has also won two Silver Slugger Awards. But a batting title? He's only hit .300 in two full seasons twice in his career -- .321, when he finished seventh in the AL in batting in 2006, and .300 in '08.

And now this year.

Morneau had one of those days to remember in the Rockies' 16-2 victory against the Dodgers at Coors Field on Wednesday afternoon. He had a three-run home run and a two-run single -- in the first inning alone, matching a franchise record with five RBIs in an inning. Morneau also had a fifth-inning sacrifice fly and a double to lead off the fourth, when, he admits, he did briefly think about going for a triple in pursuit of a possible cycle.

"With my speed, or lack thereof, there aren't a lot of opportunities for a cycle," said a smiling Morneau, who has five stolen bases to show for his 1,430 big league games. "I thought about it, but at the same time, I want to play the game the right way. If I get thrown out by 20 feet in a 9-0 game, it looks awful selfish. That's not how you play the game."

The 3-for-4 afternoon raised Morneau's average to .320, tops in the National League, two points ahead of Josh Harrison of the Pirates and 10 points head of Buster Posey of the Giants.

Morneau never thought much about a batting title. In his days with Minnesota, "playing with [Joe] Mauer, and he was hitting .365 [to win the 2009 AL batting title], .347 [to win in '06], .328 [to win in '08]."

Besides, Morneau said, his focus has always been on doing the things to help his team win, figuring whatever stats come out of that effort are rewarding enough.

Morneau's pursuit of an NL batting title is one of the few positives about the team.

"It would be good," he said. "It would be something to be proud of."

While it would be a first for Morneau, it wouldn't be for Colorado.

The Rockies have had a player win the NL batting title eight times since the franchise's inception in 1993. Larry Walker, a fellow Canadian whose No. 33 Morneau wears out of respect, did it three times (1998, '99 and 2001), and Andres Galarraga (1993), Todd Helton (2000), Matt Holliday ('07), Carlos Gonzalez ('10) and Michael Cuddyer ('13) have each done it once.

What the pursuit signifies more than anything for Morneau, however, is that he's healthy. He has to have at least 502 plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, which means he has to be available to play 130 or more games. And Morneau has been, even though there have been brief bouts with neck stiffness and a sore rib cage that has sidelined him at times.

Morneau gives a nod to manager Walt Weiss for playing a role in that.

"Walt has done a great job of giving me days off, even when I don't want them," he said. "I'm learning there is more value to playing healthy for 130, 140 games than play hurt and getting into 160 and having less production than I would in 130."

And the baseball world is learning that at the age of 33, despite two concussions and a neck surgery, Morneau's career is very much alive and well.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["clemente_award" ] }

Cuddyer's service earns Clemente Award nomination

Cuddyer's service earns Clemente Award nomination play video for Cuddyer's service earns Clemente Award nomination

DENVER -- Outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer's involvement with charitable endeavors in the Denver area since joining the Rockies in 2011 has earned him the club's nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet.

Since signing with the Rockies, Cuddyer has worked with charities such as the CAN'd Aid Foundation, a non-profit organization created to help small businesses, individuals and organizations in Lyons, Colo., recover from a major flood in 2013.

Cuddyer will be joined by representatives of Chevy and the CAN'd Aid Foundation on Wednesday afternoon during an on-field ceremony to be recognized for the efforts. Wednesday is designated as Roberto Clemente Day, and all teams at home that day will conduct on-field presentations.

"Michael is one of the most philanthropic players in baseball and is always thinking of ways to give back to the community," Jim Kellogg, the Rockies' vice president of community and retail operations said in the Rockies' official announcement. "He's a constant leader on and off the field leading by example and is more than deserving to be the Colorado Rockies recipient of this award."

Cuddyer is one of 30 club finalists for the award, which recognizes the player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Fans may be part of the selection process for the national Clemente award recipient by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, powered by MLB Advanced Media. Voting ends Oct. 6 and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2014 World Series, where the national winner will be announced.

The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, which includes Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of Roberto Clemente, Vera Clemente, and representatives from Chevrolet, MLB Network, MLB.com, ESPN, FOX Sports and TBS, among others.

Roberto Clemente was a 15-time MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["clemente_award" ] }

Blackmon a hit machine like few others

Blackmon a hit machine like few others play video for Blackmon a hit machine like few others

Charlie Blackmon is having a season for the ages. The All-Star outfielder delivered his third five-hit game of the year for Colorado on Wednesday, making him just the fourth player in the last 25 years to manage that feat. Blackmon, in fact, is one of only 19 players in the last 100 years who have notched three five-hit games in the same season.

Several Hall of Famers are on the list -- Tris Speaker, Al Simmons, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Heinie Manush, Stan Musial, Luis Aparicio, Dave Winfield and Tony Gwynn -- and it's striking how rare it happens. Only three players (Gwynn, Kenny Lofton and Ichiro Suzuki) have done it since 1990.

Blackmon, who went 5-for-5 with a home run and four runs scored in the Rockies' 16-2 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday, has had an up-and-down season. He went 6-for-6 against Arizona on April 4 and 5-for-5 against Minnesota on July 12, but he's hit just .252 since the All-Star break.

Blackmon hit .305 with 14 home runs in 93 games before the All-Star break, but he's gone deep just four times in 52 games since the season's intermission. The 28-year-old scored four times and drove home two runs in Wednesday's rout, and he had also scored four times in his six-hit game.

Only four players -- Cobb, Musial, Gwynn and Suzuki -- have had four games of at least five hits in the same season. Cobb, who's second on the all-time hits chart, did it in 1922, and Musial managed it in '48. Suzuki did it in 2004, the year he set the all-time single-season hits record (262).

Blackmon, amazingly, has not recorded an out in each of his five-hit games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that has only happened six other times in history. Cobb (1922), Speaker ('23), Musial ('48), Gwynn ('93) and Suzuki (2004) are the other names on the list.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Morneau, Blackmon power record rout of LA

Morneau, Blackmon power record rout of LA play video for Morneau, Blackmon power record rout of LA

DENVER -- Jorge De La Rosa has overcome the challenge of pitching at Coors Field. He is the rare starting pitcher who has thrived there, a reason he opted not to become a free agent after the season and signed a two-year, $25 million contract with the Rockies earlier this month.

Thanks to a historic outburst by the Rockies and Justin Morneau in the first inning Wednesday, De La Rosa had the unusual pleasure of exhaling early at his home park. The Rockies overwhelmed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 16-2, piling on spot starter Carlos Frias in the first for eight runs, five of which were driven in by Morneau. He finished with six RBIs, one shy of his career high, in the Rockies' most lopsided win of the season.

He attributed the five RBIs in the first to "luck" and said, "It was one of those things. You play this game a long time, you see some things you haven't seen. Obviously, having guys on base was important to come up there with the opportunity."

The Rockies reached a season high in runs scored and tied their season high with 21 hits while winning by their largest margin of the season.

Charlie Blackmon went 5-for-5 with a home run, two RBIs and four runs scored. He joined Larry Walker as the only other player in franchise history to have multiple games of at least four hits and four runs in a season, something Walker accomplished in 1996.

After beating the Dodgers, 10-4, on Tuesday night, the Rockies savored another one-sided victory in the rubber game of the series and helped cut the Dodgers' lead in the National League West over San Francisco to two games. The Giants beat the D-backs, 4-2.

The eight-run first set a Rockies franchise record for runs in that inning and tied the season high for runs in any inning. Morneau started the scoring with a three-run homer and finished it with a two-run single on the first pitch from Scott Elbert, tying a franchise record for RBIs in an inning. Carlos Gonzalez had five RBIs against the Mets on April 27, 2012, in the fifth inning.

"It was one of those days where we got on a roll, and it was tough to stop," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

Frias (0-1) gave up 10 hits, including seven straight to start the game, and eight runs, while retiring only two of the 11 batters he faced. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Frias became the the first Major League pitcher in the modern era, which dates from 1920, to allow 10 hits while getting less than three outs in a game. He is also just the third Dodgers starter since 1914 to allow eight runs in less than one inning. The last was Hideo Nomo in 1998.

"You never necessarily know when they're going to come, but it was a bad day all around," Frias said through an interpreter. "All I can do is put it behind me. I'm not going to allow Coors Field to be an excuse. Obviously there are other pitchers that are able to have success here at Coors Field. I'm just chalking it up to a bad outing."

For De La Rosa (14-11), it was another strong performance at Coors Field, where such things have become the norm. He gave up two hits over six scoreless innings, improving his home record this season to 10-2 with a 3.08 ERA. De La Rosa is 20-3 with a 2.92 ERA at Coors Field over the past two seasons and 45-14 with a 4.00 ERA there for his career.

After being staked to the large early lead, De La Rosa said, "All you have to do there is go out and attack the hitters, and that's all I did."

The first seven batters reached base in the memorable first, which began with singles from Blackmon and Josh Rutledge. After Morneau hit his 16th home run, Michael Cuddyer doubled and Corey Dickerson, Wilin Rosario and Rafael Ynoa singled before DJ LeMahieu grounded into a fielder's choice for the first out of the inning. The Rockies had two runners thrown out on the bases in the inning, when the first 12 batters reached base.

But it's not like the offense then cooled down; Colorado added eight more runs, scoring in four straight innings beginning with the third.

"Guys didn't give away any at-bats the rest of the day," Weiss said. "They kept playing. You score that many in the first -- we've some strange things happen in this park. There's a lot of game left, but Jorge did a good job keeping them down."

The Dodgers sidestepped a shutout when second baseman Darwin Barney homered in the eighth off Rob Scahill, and added another run in the ninth, also off Scahill.

Morneau went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .320, giving him the National League lead in batting going into Wednesday night's games. After his homer and single in the first, Morneau doubled to lead off the fourth. He lined a ball into the gap in right-center and thought momentarily about trying for a triple, the toughest part of hitting for the cycle.

"With my speed or lack thereof, it's pretty rare that I'll have an opportunity to go for a cycle or think about a cycle," he said. "I was thinking about it, but at the same time you want to play the game the right way and getting thrown out by 20 feet in a 9-0 game can look kind of selfish. So you don't really want to do that."

Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Butler to get start as Rox move to six-man rotation

Butler to get start as Rox move to six-man rotation play video for Butler to get start as Rox move to six-man rotation

DENVER -- Eddie Butler will start Saturday against the D-backs and make two starts before the season ends as the Rockies go to a six-man rotation for the final week of the season. Manager Walt Weiss said that alignment will result in Butler also getting a start Sept. 27 at Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

"I hope I get the opportunity to start a few games and get some more experience and go out there and beat those Dodgers," Butler said. "They got my number the first time, so it's time for a little payback."

Butler, 23, made his Major League debut June 6 at Coors Field against the Dodgers and allowed 10 hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 7-2 Colorado defeat. He reported to Coors Field the following morning with soreness under his right armpit and went on the 15-day disabled list until July 19, when he was optioned back to Double-A Tulsa, where he began the season.

Butler last pitched on Sunday in the final game of the Texas League championship series, which Tulsa lost, 5-0, at Midland. He gave up eight hits and five runs in five innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Matzek shows his mettle as Rockies thump Dodgers

Rookie lefty minimizes damage while Dickerson's four RBIs lead rout

Matzek shows his mettle as Rockies thump Dodgers play video for Matzek shows his mettle as Rockies thump Dodgers

DENVER -- Rockies rookie left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek spent the last month proving he could control games, but on Tuesday night he showed he could manage one.

Matzek gave up 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but for the sixth straight start he kept his opponent under four runs. This time, the National League West-leading Dodgers managed just two off Matzek, and the Rockies ended their losing streak at seven games with a 10-4 victory in front of 28,983 at Coors Field.

After pitching smoothly for the first three innings, Matzek survived despite having the first two batters reach in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. His performance helped prevent the Rockies from matching their longest losing streak of the season -- not that he grasped that stat.

"I didn't even know what our record was going into the game," Matzek said. "My thought process is the same for each game. Give up as few runs as possible and help the team win."

In most ways, this is a lost season for the Rockies, who are last in the NL West. But they appear to have found an effective starter in Matzek, 23, their top pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Capistrano Valley High in Mission Viejo, Calif. Matzek showed growth Tuesday by figuring out he couldn't command his sinker, slider or changeup, and going to a curveball he had used sparingly in recent starts.

"He's really come a long ways, really found himself some identity," said catcher Michael McKenry, who had a double, scored a run and singled in another. "Today was a great example. He pitched out of a ton of jams. He didn't have his best stuff."

Manager Walt Weiss said, "He [Matzek] is taking it and running with it. The kid's got a quiet confidence."

The Rockies also have found a productive bat in Corey Dickerson, who delivered four RBIs. He launched his 23rd home run of the season, for two runs off losing pitcher Dan Haren (13-11) in the fourth, and added a two-run triple in the eighth.

Dickerson's homer flew high into the night sky.

"I didn't know if it was gong to get out or not -- I squared it up, but I hit it straight up," Dickerson said.

In his previous five starts, Matzek (6-10) posted a 1.75 ERA. Those games included a three-hit shutout of the Padres on Sept. 5, two games of seven innings and two others in which he pitched into the seventh. Tuesday's game seemed headed in that direction when he held the Dodgers -- who lost for just the fourth time in their last 11 games -- scoreless for the first five innings and had a 5-0 lead.

But a Dodgers team that had scored 32 runs in the previous three games gave Matzek trouble.

"They hit mistakes real well, so you've got to put the ball in the right spots," Matzek said. "I thought I did an OK job at that tonight -- not the best, not the worst."

Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke singled, then Justin Turner drove in both on a double to open the sixth. Center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Josh Rutledge made strong relay throws after Juan Uribe's double to cut down Turner at the plate. After a walk to A.J. Ellis, righty Tommy Kahnle entered and struck out pinch-hitter Hanley Ramirez swinging and Yasiel Puig looking, with a Dee Gordon infield single in between.

A night after blowing numerous chances while being blown out by the Dodgers, 11-3, the Rockies were much better at capitalizing. Justin Morneau delivered an RBI groundout and Rutledge scored on a wild pitch. Morneau finished 2-for-4 to lift his batting average to .316 -- one point behind the NL batting leader, the Pirates' Josh Harrison.

McKenry doubled to open the second and scored on DJ LeMahieu's fielder's choice.

"We executed very well early on," Weiss said. "Our offensive execution had been lacking. It was real good tonight."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["injury" ] }

Tulo staying focused on getting ready for 2015

Tulo staying focused on getting ready for 2015 play video for Tulo staying focused on getting ready for 2015

DENVER -- It was old times, kinda. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki walked the tunnel from the home clubhouse at Coors Field to the dugout without a limp. His step, in lime-green sandals and socks, didn't exactly have a bounce, but it was not bad for a guy who had a torn left hip labrum repaired on Aug. 13. The crutches and brace have been gone for a week.

"All I can do is have positive thoughts, do all my rehab the way it's supposed to be done, be ready for Spring Training and go out there and play my game," Tulowitzki said.

Tulowitzki's season is as good an illustration of the Rockies' season as any.

He led the Majors with a .340 batting average, his 21 homers had him battling for the National League lead, and his fielding numbers had him in line to win his fourth career Gold Glove. Then he was hurt, as were so many other Rockies. Now he is watching a depleted team that is flirting with a third straight last-place finish in the NL West and is in danger of losing 100 games for the first time in franchise history.

He and the Rockies are trying to put all the pain of 2014 behind them.

"I'll do what I can do to help make things more positive," Tulowitzki said. "As a team and as an individual, it stinks to lose games and be on the DL."

The offseason will not be a comfortable time for the Rockies. The fan base is tired of seeing seasons fall apart because of injuries and a lack of depth. The front office is under pressure. With Tulowitzki's season ending at 91 games, it means he will have finished with fewer than 100 games two of the last three years and under 130 for the fourth time in five years.

Tulowitzki is due $118 million 2015-20. The Rockies' other high-priced star, outfielder Carols Gonzalez, is coming off left knee surgery that ended his fourth straight series of fewer than 136 games and is due $53 million over the next three years. The club also badly needs pitching, starting and relief, and depth. There will be pressure to deal big-contract players, but there would be difficulty getting value given the injury histories of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez.

Tulowitzki, who will spend the winter at his Las Vegas home, will concentrate on rehab and not allow himself to be distracted by rumors.

"I don't control that," Tulowitzki said. "Hopefully we can put a good team on the field next year."

Tulowitzki expects to be ready for Spring Training. For now, he can do leg exercises and ride a stationery bike, but no weight-bearing movements.

Tulowitzki's hope is correcting the labrum will help him avoid future muscle injuries. Whatever the answer is, he doesn't believe moving from shortstop -- a demanding position, especially for a bigger player (listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds) -- is part of the answer.

"If I feel like I'm harming the ballclub being at short, then it can be talked about," he said. "But I feel like that's where I make the biggest impact. I feel I help the team most at shortstop. Until I feel like there's another position that's better-suited for me, I'm going to stay there."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Arenado out with early onset pneumonia

Arenado out with early onset pneumonia play video for Arenado out with early onset pneumonia

DENVER -- In addition to the chest contusion that the Rockies expected, a CT scan and MRI exam on third baseman Nolan Arenado on Tuesday revealed the early onset of pneumonia. Manager Walt Weiss believes Arenado will return before season's end, but a determination will not be made until he rests for a few days and is reevaluated.

"I think we'll see him again this season," Weiss said. "He's not feeling very good, obviously. It'll be a few days before he's even up and about."

Arenado began experiencing chest pain during the last road trip, when he made diving attempts in New York and St. Louis.

For a team that has had to deal with a benign tumor in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez's left index finger, missed catcher Wilin Rosario and infielder Josh Rutledge with a flu-like illness, and seen pitchers Jordan Lyles and Christian Bergman suffer breaks to their non-throwing hand, a chest bruise that led to a pneumonia diagnosis is right in line.

"We've invented a few this year," Weiss said. "This is about par for the course."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] ,"content":["injury" ] }

Butler has chance to end tough season on high note

Butler has chance to end tough season on high note play video for Butler has chance to end tough season on high note

DENVER -- The unveiling of Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler hasn't gone as planned -- at least so far.

Butler, 23, suffered a right rotator cuff strain in his Major League debut in June and spent the rest of the season rehabbing and trying to find his form in the Minors, but he's back in the Majors and is expected to start Saturday against the D-backs.

It will be the first of possibly two starts.

"I didn't know if I was getting shut down or being sent to the Arizona Fall League or if I'd get back here," Butler said. "I was hoping to get a chance to come back here. I'm happy to be back here, so I can get more experience."

After being drafted out of Radford University 46th overall in 2012, Butler dominated in his first season and a half of his Minor League career, going 16-6 with a 1.91 ERA, and 198 strikeouts against 65 walks. Although his electric sinker went missing at the start of this season at Double-A Tulsa, he was effective enough to earn a June 6 callup. But after giving up six runs in 5 1/3 innings of a loss to the Dodgers, Butler went to the disabled list with the rotator cuff issue.

The rest of the year was spent trying to regain the sinker. He finished 6-9 with a 3.58 ERA at Tulsa. He also had brief rehab appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs and Class A Advanced Modesto. In all, he was 6-10 with a 3.99 ERA in 20 starts. But Butler was able to pitch in Tulsa's run to the Texas League Championship Series, although he was the losing pitcher in Sunday's 5-0 loss in the series' final game at Midland.

"Hopefully he comes out on the other side better for it," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's had to make some adjustments this year, learn some new things, make some adjustments. That's not always a bad thing in the big picture."

Butler returns to the Rockies encouraged.

"My sinker is much closer than it was when I threw here last time," Butler said. "I had the confidence, but I knew something was not quite right.

"I learned to mix it up, try to keep guys off balance. It's helped make me better. I got through games where location, movement, velocity weren't there. Now I have things I can rely on other than the fastball."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] ,"content":["injury" ] }

Rockies miss chances before Dodgers pull away

Unable to cash in early, Colorado done in by LA's eight-run sixth

Rockies miss chances before Dodgers pull away play video for Rockies miss chances before Dodgers pull away

DENVER -- You can't spell dysfunction without "fun," and the Dodgers had plenty of both Monday night. As for the Rockies, well, they may be harmonious but there's no enjoyment in a seven-game losing streak.

After the Rockies blew numerous early scoring opportunities, the Dodgers ignited for eight runs on seven hits in a sixth inning that featured an animated discussion between Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. When all the shouting was over, the National League West-leading Dodgers had an 11-3 victory at Coors Field.

But Rockies right-handed reliever Nick Masset, the last of three pitchers who took a beating from the red-hot Dodgers in the sixth, said he's certain the Dodgers are having a blast. They've won eight of their last 10 and have scored 32 runs in their last three games.

"Of course they're having fun," said Masset, who gave up three runs on three hits in the sixth. "When you're winning, you're having fun. But as the opposing team, you really don't try to think of those things. Even though things are going bad for us, everyone's competing, keeping our heads up."

After a winless six-game road trip, the last-place Rockies began their final homestand of 2014 with much base traffic but little to show for it. The Rockies' seven-game losing streak is one game shy of the season's longest skid -- eight games from May 28 to June 6.

While the Rockies are trying to keep their heads held high, the Dodgers -- even with the fun of winning and holding a four-game lead on the second-place Giants -- have to keep their heads from butting.

TV cameras caught an angry exchange between Kemp, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Rockies starter Christian Bergman (2-4), and Puig that ended with Dodgers manager Don Mattingly trying to smooth things with Puig through an interpreter.

Asked about the incident, Kemp shot back, "It's a good game we played today, huh? Go Dodgers."

Mattingly reminded all that winning teams aren't always harmonious.

"Just talking in the dugout," said Mattingly, who didn't reveal the subject of the argument. "Same old things ... We're like the A's. The '72 A's.

"Just family business."

Of course, the 1972 A's were the beginning of a rollicking, bickering dynasty that won three straight World Series.

Kemp and Puig merely exchanged angry words. The blows were struck by the Dodger bats, but only after the Rockies blew several opportunities for big innings.

Michael Cuddyer doubled in a first-inning run, but that was after Charlie Blackmon was caught between third and home on Justin Morneau's grounder to Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe. Wilin Rosario led off the second with his 11th homer, off Dodgers starter Roberto Hernandez. But later in the inning, Bergman missed a suicide squeeze bunt attempt and watched Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tag DJ LeMahieu at the plate.

After the wasted chance in the fourth, Corey Dickerson delivered an RBI single in the fifth off Jamey Wright. All this was good for a 3-3 tie, instead of a significant Rockies lead.

"We score in those opportunities early on, maybe the game's a little bit different," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "In the sixth, obviously, it got away from us."

Bergman had pitched decently to that point, with seven strikeouts. But he hit Carl Crawford to open the sixth and gave up singles to Uribe and Ellis.

"The big thing was getting the leadoff hitter," said Bergman, who gave up six runs on nine hits.

Lefty Rex Brothers replaced Bergman, but not for long. He was gone after yielding Justin Turner's pinch-hit, two-run double and Dee Gordon's RBI single, on just two pitches. In Brothers' last five appearances, six of his nine inherited runners have scored.

Masset walked Puig and coughed up Adrian Gonzalez's single before striking out Kemp. But Hanley Ramirez doubled in a run, Crawford added a sacrifice fly and Uribe doubled in a run before the frame ended.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Flande, Butler to make starts down stretch for Rockies

Flande, Butler to make starts down stretch for Rockies play video for Flande, Butler to make starts down stretch for Rockies

DENVER -- The Rockies will turn to left-hander Yohan Flande to start Thursday night against the D-backs, which means lefty Franklin Morales has been removed from the rotation for the remainder of the season.

Flande will also start on Sept. 23 at San Diego. Additionally, the Rockies are expected to call up right-hander Eddie Butler, their No. 2-ranked prospect, to start Saturday against the D-backs at Coors Field in the next-to-last home game. That would put the Rockies in position to finish the regular season with six starters. 

Flande (0-5, 5.04 ERA) had started eight of his 14 outings this season, with the last coming on Aug. 17 before he was optioned back to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Since being recalled on Sept. 1, Flande has made five straight scoreless relief appearances covering 4 1/3 innings. But Flande, 28, who broke in this season with the Rockies after a lengthy career in the Phillies and Braves organizations, could be seen as starting rotation depth in the future.

"We still haven't given up on him as a starter," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We feel like he can transition easily to the bullpen, if that's the case, like he's shown this year. When we put him in the bullpen, he's been very effective -- a strike-thrower, very effective against lefties. He can keep the ball at the bottom of the zone, so there are some things that he's done well."

Butler, 23, spent most of this season at Double-A Tulsa and was the losing pitcher Sunday, when the Drillers fell to Midland, 5-0, in the fifth and deciding game of the Texas League Championship Series.

Butler was called up from Tulsa to make his Major League debut on June 6 against the Dodgers. He gave up six earned runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in a loss, then went on the disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain.

He finished the Minor League season 6-10 with a 3.99 ERA in 20 total starts, with 69 strikeouts in 117 1/3 innings. Part of his season, however, was spent rehabbing the injury.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Rockies recall infielder Adames from Double-A

Rockies recall infielder Adames from Double-A play video for Rockies recall infielder Adames from Double-A

DENVER -- The Rockies recalled switch-hitting infielder Cristhian Adames, their No. 13-ranked prospect, on Monday after he participated in Double-A Tulsa's five-game loss to Midland in the Texas League Championship Series.

In his only Major League appearance, Adames, 23, went 0-for-3 against the Cubs in a July 29 game that went 16 innings before the Rockies lost, 4-3. Adames batted a combined .288 with three home runs, 52 RBIs and 12 stolen bases for Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Fellow September callup Rafael Ynoa, who entered Monday's start at third base batting .333, are similar players -- both switch-hitters who can play multiple positions. They could be competing for utility work next season.

 "We felt like he's earned it, going down there to try to help Tulsa in their playoff run," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He did a really nice job in Triple-A. We felt he earned the callup.

 "He played in that crazy game in Chicago. I think that was his taste of the big leagues, that absurd game we played in Chicago. It'll be good to get him back here and get a look at him again."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Rockies strike out 16 times in loss to Cards

Lyles posts quality start; Colorado loses six games on road trip

Rockies strike out 16 times in loss to Cards play video for Rockies strike out 16 times in loss to Cards

ST. LOUIS -- As the days dwindle this season, the Rockies' road trips seem longer.

A winless six-game trek came to an end Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals, during which the Rockies struck out 16 times -- nine against Colorado high school product Marco Gonzales, a rookie left-hander.

"We can't strike out that many times and expect to do anything offensively," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

After being swept in three-game sets against the Mets and the National League Central-leading Cards, the Rockies fell to 20-55 on the road. Their 235 road runs are the fewest in the NL, their .632 road OPS is second lowest and their 678 road strikeouts are third most. Of their 20 road victories, eight came in April and just four have come since the All-Star break.

The Rockies return to Coors Field on Monday for their final homestand of the year, against the Dodgers and D-backs. But they finish the season on the road against the Padres and Dodgers.

The just-completed road trip saw the Rockies squander mostly passable starting pitching by exceeding two runs on offense just once. On Sunday, Jordan Lyles (6-3) went six innings and gave up three runs in the third on Matt Holliday's RBI double and Jhonny Peralta's 21st homer of the season

"It's obviously not good to lose every game on a road trip, but we can't find ways to score enough runs," said third baseman Nolan Arenado, who left the game before the bottom of the fourth with a chest contusion and is listed as day to day.

Brandon Barnes' RBI double, which came after Matt McBride's leadoff walk, gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead in the second inning. But that was it for the offense.

Gonzales (3-2) demonstrated growth from the last time he faced the Rockies, when he gave up five runs in five innings in a no-decision at Coors Field in his Major League debut on June 25.

"The first time we faced him, he was pretty much fastball-changeup, and when you can eliminate pitches it helps you narrow your scope of what you're looking for that day," Rockies outfielder Drew Stubbs said. "Today he mixed in a lot more breaking balls and a little cutter/slider pitch to keep us off his changeup and his fastball."

Gonzales skipped Triple-A before being called up for three starts in late June and early July. The Cardinals sent him to Triple-A Memphis, where he worked on his approach. Since his return he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four appearances (two starts).

"The curveball has been a big addition," said Gonzales, from Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo. "I think my stint in Triple-A really helped with that, and then back up here, just focusing on throwing it and not trying to do too much with it. I got some swings and misses with it today and got some ground balls."

Lyles pitched around nine hits and two walks. He finished with four strikeouts.

"That pitch to Holliday, that was a good piece of hitting, and he put it down the line," Lyles said. "I made a mistake to Peralta, and good hitters put good swings on bad pitches."

Holliday, who played for the Rockies from 2004-08, drove in five runs and homered twice in the series.

"Maybe his eyes light up when he sees this purple -- he had good years in Denver," Lyles said. "He's a good hitter. Good hitters get on good streaks."

The Rockies also allowed chances to slip away in the sixth and seventh innings. Michael McKenry and Barnes each singled off Gonzales to put runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth. But reliever Seth Maness fanned pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson.

In the seventh, Stubbs tripled to right-center off reliever Carlos Martinez with two outs. But Rafael Ynoa, who replaced Arenado, bounced to the mound. Trevor Rosenthal finished the day by striking out the side during a perfect ninth for his 44th save.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Cuddyer runs bases with no hamstring issues

Cuddyer runs bases with no hamstring issues play video for Cuddyer runs bases with no hamstring issues

ST. LOUIS -- Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer forgot about his troublesome left hamstring and sprinted from second to home on Ben Paulsen's single in the fourth inning of the 5-4 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night. But when he arrived at the dugout, he received plenty of reminders.

Cuddyer has missed 111 games this season and has been placed on the disabled list three times -- twice because of hamstring issues. So the concern on the part of teammates and staff was understandable. Cuddyer returned from the latest hamstring injury Monday and homered in his first at-bat. But his three hits Saturday marked the first time he had to run the bases.

"I don't have any issues with it, and knock on wood I won't have any issues with it for the rest of the season," Cuddyer said. "When I got to the dugout, everybody was asking me how it felt. They asked me more after a groundout in my last at-bat, because I kind of lunged at the bag. That was more of a question -- for other guys, not me."

Cuddyer won the National League batting title last year, and Saturday's 3-for-4 performance upped his average this year to .322. He's nowhere near the threshold of plate appearances to qualify, but that average would be tops in the league again. Cuddyer is proud to have hit for average in a season interrupted by the hamstring injuries and a 60-game DL stint because of a fractured left shoulder socket.

"Over the last few years, I've matured as a hitter," Cuddyer said. "You always are looking to improve, and I've done things over the last couple of years to try to improve and try to sustain a level. You can't ever guarantee results. You can't ever guarantee production. But the approach that I've found has been productive and it's worked."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}

Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked play video for Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to MLB.com and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}

Rockies cut it close in ninth, but can't snap skid

Colorado scores three runs in final frame before Cards escape jam

Rockies cut it close in ninth, but can't snap skid play video for Rockies cut it close in ninth, but can't snap skid

ST. LOUIS -- The Rockies' game on Saturday night began the same as Friday's, with Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday launching an impressive first-inning homer. Colorado would make a run in the ninth inning, but it wasn't enough as a rough road trip continued.

Homers by Holliday, a solo shot, and Matt Carpenter, a two-run blast in a three-run second, gave the National League Central-leading Cards the lead, and they withstood the late rally for a 5-4 victory against the Rockies at Busch Stadium in front of 45,552.

In the ninth, Drew Stubbs drew a leadoff walk and Matt McBride doubled with one out against Sam Freeman. Pat Neshek entered the game for the Cards and gave up Wilin Rosario's RBI single, Josh Rutledge's sacrifice fly and Michael McKenry's RBI double. However, Neshek got pinch-hitter Rafael Ynoa on a fly ball to center to end the game and earn his sixth save.

Afterward, Rockies manager Walt Weiss lamented missed opportunities that could have put the Rockies in better position before the ninth. Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-4 with a double, with two of his hits leading off an inning and one coming with one out. However, just once, when Ben Paulsen followed up Cuddyer's leadoff single in the fourth inning with an RBI single with two outs, did Cuddyer advance after a hit.

The Rockies managed five hits in six innings against starter Shelby Miller (10-9), who struck out five against no walks, and nine hits total. But the inability to do much with those hits was symbolic of a season-long problem that has repeated itself during this road trip, which has seen the Rockies lose the first five games with one more to play. At 20-54 on the road, the Rockies must win five of their final seven road games just to match the 2003 team and avoid having the worst away mark in club history.

"We need to manufacture a run or two there," Weiss said. "We didn't do it. We made a few mistakes. You're not going to get away with those against a club like that. You've got to be opportunistic."

Despite the furious comeback attempt, Colorado's loss and the D-backs' victory over the Padres on Saturday pushed the Rockies (59-89) into the NL West cellar by themselves.

"We put together some good at-bats, some pinch-hit at-bats, a couple RBI hits in the ninth," Weiss said. "Guys are battling. We're pretty much emptying the bench to try to win that game."

The Cardinals' two homers came off Rockies starter Franklin Morales (6-8), who has yielded 24 homers this year. That's the fourth-most homers in the NL, for a pitcher who has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen.

"These are the big leagues," said Morales, who gave up five hits and four runs in four innings while laboring for 87 pitches. "I missed two pitches and they got me.

"That's tough when you have your best stuff and you miss two pitches like I did. I threw good curveballs, good changeups. I missed two pitches and I paid for that. I felt pretty good today."

Holliday's 18th homer of the year -- a night after his three-run homer set in motion a 5-1 Cardinals win over the Rockies -- gave the Cards a 1-0 lead. With two down in the second, Morales walked Pete Kozma and gave up an RBI double to Miller. Then Carpenter hit his eighth homer of the season for a 4-0 Cardinals lead.

"That was a big walk right there, and Miller getting the RBI double," Weiss said. "There were a few things we didn't execute on both sides of the ball that in the end cost us. We fought back in the last inning against a tough reliever, but there were some things we didn't execute. We paid for it."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"content":["replay" ] }

Replay used twice in ninth inning of Cards-Rockies

Replay used twice in ninth inning of Cards-Rockies play video for Replay used twice in ninth inning of Cards-Rockies

ST. LOUIS -- Replay was used twice in the ninth inning of the Cardinals' 5-4 win against the Rockies on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

The first replay occurred when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny unsuccessfully challenged a safe call at first base. The play started when Colorado's Nolan Arenado lined out to second for the first out of the inning with Drew Stubbs on first base after a leadoff walk. Second baseman Pete Kozma threw to first after making the catch to try to double up Stubbs, but umpire Jeff Nelson called Stubbs safe. After review, it was ruled that the call would stand.

With two outs in the inning, there was a crew chief review of potential fan interference. Pinch-hitter Michael McKenry's double was ruled in play, with Wilin Rosario scoring to cut the Cardinals' lead to 5-4. After review, the call was confirmed.

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Masset healthy, optimistic about future in Majors

Masset healthy, optimistic about future in Majors play video for Masset healthy, optimistic about future in Majors

ST. LOUIS -- Righty reliever Nick Masset's performance in the Rockies' 5-1 loss to the Cardinals on Friday night was an illustration of his mixed-bag season -- a clean seventh inning before allowing a run on a Yadier Molina double with two outs in the eighth.

But being on the mound at all and being healthy enough to pitch in September are major steps forward for Masset, who didn't pitch in the Majors from 2011, when he was with the Reds, until making his Rockies debut on May 5.

Right shoulder surgery, operations to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in his neck area and, this spring, a cleanup of a staph infection in his collarbone area, derailed Masset's career. By making 47 appearances, Masset has re-established himself as a Major League pitcher. His 2014 numbers -- 2-0, 5.49 ERA -- don't approach his performance with the Reds, when he was one of the National League's most dependable setup men.

But the question the Rockies must answer is whether they believe Masset -- a potential free agent after the season -- will fully return to form in 2015.

"When guys have been out for a while, the first year back they might go through struggles and be better the next year," Masset said. "I'm hoping that's the case.

"I'm just very lucky and blessed to be able to come back and pitch again. I thought my career might've been over. With the way I feel, I know what I need to do to go into the offseason and train."

Masset appeared in 231 games for the Reds from 2009-11. The idea of him being a workhorse in the bullpen could be appealing to the Rockies, whose bullpen was hurt by poor performances from key guys and injuries this season. Relief pitching figures to be an area of focus as the Rockies build next year's roster.

"I look at it a lot like [first baseman Justin] Morneau's situation -- he probably didn't have his greatest statistical season last year, but he re-established himself in the game by going out and playing 150-plus games," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "That's similar to Nick's season this year.

"Nick's stuff has still been top-level stuff. His command hasn't been sharp all the time, but that's typically what happens to a pitcher that's missed a lot of time. When his command has been there, he's been very good."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Asheville wins South Atlantic League championship

Asheville wins South Atlantic League championship

ST. LOUIS -- Raimel Tapia went 2-for-5 with a home run and right-hander Konner Wade threw seven scoreless innings as the Asheville Tourists clinched the South Atlantic League championship with a 4-1 victory against Hagerstown in the fifth and deciding game of the title series on Saturday night.

It was the second championship in three years for Asheville, the Rockies' low Class A affiliate.

Tapia, 20, who finished the regular season with a .326 batting average, nine home runs and 32 doubles, hit his first postseason homer for a 2-0 Tourists lead in the third inning. Correlle Prime hit an RBI single in the first inning, and Zach Osborne added a two-run double in the fourth.

Wade, 22, a seventh-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arizona, struck out six against no walks, and he held Hagerstown to five hits in his seven innings. Trent Daniel threw 1 1/3 no-hit innings for the save.

Asheville was managed by Fred Ocasio. Tapia is ranked by MLB.com as the Rockies' No. 5 prospect.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }