Bullpen falters in GJ Rockies’ loss

Grand Junction Rockies shortstop Max George waits for the throw as Idaho Falls’ Samir Duenez tries to steal second base Saturday night in the first inning of the Chukars’ 12-1 victory at Suplizio Field. George tagged Duenez out on the play.

Grand Junction’s Dom Nunez rounds the bases Saturday night after hitting a solo home run, the only run the Rockies got, in the fourth inning of Grand Junction’s 12-1 loss to Idaho Falls.

A rarely used bullpen showed some rust.

The Grand Junction Rockies’ bullpen gave up seven runs, five of them earned, on five hits in three innings to blow a quality start by Javier Palacios as Idaho Falls routed the Rockies 12-1 in a Pioneer League baseball game Saturday night at Suplizio Field.

After Palacios gave up back-to-back home runs to start the seventh, Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders went to the bullpen. Instead of the Rockies getting out of the inning trailing 4-1, the Chukars scored eight times in the inning for a 10-1 lead. Idaho Falls avoided a four-game sweep by the Rockies with the victory.

Hunter Brothers relieved Palacios, hit two batters, walked another and gave up two hits. He allowed five runs, all earned, in two-thirds of an inning.

“It’s not fair to some of the kids down in the bullpen with the numbers we have,” Sanders said. “I think the last time quite a few of those guys threw was five or six days. I don’t care what job you’re doing, in professional sports, anybody with that much time off, it’s hard to compete.”

It was Brothers’ first appearance in five days and his 11th of the season.

“I apologized to him,” Sanders said. “They’ve got to be pros and take advantage of their opportunities, but that’s a tough go to ask anybody to perform in that situation.

“It’s just time on the hill. I need to get them out there more consistently. I’ll take the blame for that.”

Palacios (2-4) pitched well until the disastrous seventh. The right-hander didn’t allow a run until the fifth, when he gave up two. One was unearned. He limited the Chukars to three hits and struck out seven through six innings.

Palacios returned to the mound in the seventh, but he gave up back-to-back home runs to the first two batters he faced — Robert Pehl and Wander Franco. Mike Hill followed with a triple before Sanders pulled Palacios.

“I was getting a little bit tired, but that’s not the factor,” Palacios said with Hamlet Marte interpreting for him. “I lost a little bit of focus, and they started hitting.

“Those pitches (were) of bad quality. The catcher called good pitches. I left them a little bit high.”

The Rockies (27-18, 4-3 second half) scored their lone run in the fourth when Dom Nunez crushed a pitch into the parking lot for a 1-0 lead.

That was all the offense the Rockies could muster.

“We’ve been swinging the bats well,” Sanders said. “Today was just one of those days they had our number. To be honest with you, it’s not even going to be mentioned when we have our meeting. We’ll just pick up where we left off the other day.”

Idaho Falls pitchers limited the Rockies to four hits and allowed only six base runners all night. The Rockies left three runners on base.

Changing Places

Kyle Freeland, the Colorado Rockies’ No. 1 draft pick this year, was promoted to Class A Asheville (North Carolina). Freeland left Grand Junction early Saturday morning.

The left-handed pitcher was 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts for Grand Junction. He had 15 strikeouts and two walks in 17 1/3 innings. He picked up his first professional victory Thursday.

Meanwhile, first baseman Henry Garcia was assigned to the Class A short-season Tri-City (Washington) Dust Devils. Garcia hit .337 with two doubles, three home runs and 19 RBI in 23 games for Grand Junction.

Off Day

Grand Junction is off today before beginning a seven-game road trip in Montana. The Rockies face Billings in a four-game set, then play Great Falls in a three-game series.

The Rockies are back home Aug. 12 against Billings.


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