Errors once again hurt GJ Rockies in loss
Walks and errors make managers cringe.
Walks weren’t an issue Tuesday night in the Grand Junction Rockies’ 8-4 loss to Helena.
Errors, though, were enough to make for a restless bus trip to Idaho Falls for Anthony Sanders.
Three two-out errors in the first two innings led to five unearned runs for Helena, which scored only two earned runs the entire night.
“I think we were in the ballgame,” Sanders said. “You take away that first inning when we give up three on that routine ground ball that we booted, it could be a different ballgame.”
Even the first-inning home run Alex Balog surrendered to Clint Coulter was unearned. It came after Dom Nunez misplayed a ground ball at short by Adam Giacalone, allowing Michael Ratterree, who had tripled, to score. Coulter followed with a line-drive home run to right-center.
Balog again got the first two outs in the second inning, but Ryan McMahon couldn’t come up with a ground ball at third. Balog compounded it with a bad pickoff throw to first, allowing Renaldo Jenkins to reach third. He scored on a base hit, and another run came home when Nathan Orf doubled off the left-field wall.
Giacalone, who played for Neosho County (Kan.) Community College in the 2012 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, led off the third inning with the first earned run of the game for Helena (38-27, 15-12), a home run to left field.
After that, Balog threw three scoreless innings, saving the Rockies’ bullpen, which got a lot of work in Monday’s doubleheader.
“Kibby (pitching coach Ryan Kibler) talked to him and so did I. It was a learning lesson for him right there,” Sanders said. “If he would have come out there (in the early innings) the way he finished, it would have been a different ballgame, but we’ve got to make plays.”
Balog (0-4) didn’t walk a batter and struck out three, but he took much of the blame for the loss, even with the defensive problems.
“I left a lot of balls up. You can’t put any blame on the defense. That’s baseball,” Balog said. “That happens. I could have done a better job by keeping the ball down. (Pitches) stayed up, and they put a couple over the fence. That’s on me right there.”
The Rockies (28-36, 7-19) picked up two runs in the second.
Ryan Garvey hit an RBI single and Nunez lifted a sacrifice fly to get runs home, and they seemed to have something going in the sixth.
Jordan Patterson was hit by a pitch, and Jairo Rosario singled to center. McMahon beat out a bunt to load the bases, but Miguel Dilone, who was hitting .304 in his past 10 games but was 0 for his past 10 at-bats entering the sixth, grounded into a double play. Patterson scored, but Garvey grounded out, stranding Rosario on third.
That was the way it was all night for the Rockies’ hitters. Helena center fielder Omar Garcia made a diving catch of a line drive in the gap to rob Patterson of a hit — and a likely first-inning run — and made a running catch on a ball hit by Dilone in the fourth.
Dilone ended his hitless streak with a leadoff double in the ninth and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Cesar Galvez.
After Angel Lezama threw a scoreless seventh inning for the Rockies, Peter Tago gave up two runs in the eighth, including a home run, but he struck out the side in the ninth.
“We saw some good flashes out of Tago that last inning,” Sanders said. “If that kid ever figures out a way to put it all together, he’s untouchable at this level.”
Balog, too, is figuring things out.
“I’d put two outs up, and I don’t know if I’d relax or what, but they’d get a hit or something would happen, they’d get a runner on,” he said. “I’ve got to get a better closer mentality and go out there and end innings when I should.”
The Rockies finished play against the Pioneer League North Division 13-15 after going 9-5 in the first half.
■ Grand Junction split the four-game series with Helena. The Rockies have not won a series since going 2-0 at Orem on Aug. 2-3. That evened their record in the second half at 2-2. They’ve won only five games since.
■ The smallest crowd of the season, 1,889, attended Tuesday’s game. The Rockies have one more homestand in the regular season, starting Sunday. It’s a fireworks night, with the game starting at 6:30 p.m.