GJ Rox fall to Chukars, finish homestand 1-7

#18, Idaho Falls baserunner Frank Schwindel slide into second base safe on a force out play. Grand Junction Rockies second baseman #3, Miguel Dilone was late with the catch on a hit to center field and Schwindel had to hold at first to see if the ball would drop.

Six words said it all.

“I just wanna start winning again.”

Third baseman Ryan McMahon summed up the Grand Junction Rockies’ feelings Sunday after another lopsided loss, 10-2 to Idaho Falls at Suplizio Field.

The Rockies (24-26, 3-9) were swept by the Chukars in the four-game series and lost seven of eight on the homestand. They have lost 15 of their past 19 games.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday night, with the Rockies’ starting pitcher, Blake Shouse, unable to get hitters out and the Chukars’ starter, Yender Caramo, hitting spots and controlling the game.

Shouse (0-2), who missed his past two starts because of a blister on his pitching hand, lasted only two innings, giving up four runs in the first.

After a leadoff strikeout, Shouse hit Elier Hernandez. After a walk, passed ball and wild pitch, Cody Stubbs tripled and Daniel Rockett hit a two-out home run to left.

“We’re not getting ahead like we need to early,” McMahon said. “The last two games we’ve been down by 10 runs by the third inning, or whatever it was today. You can’t do that because it sets the tone for the entire game.”

Caramo (4-1), breezed through seven innings, allowing one run on four hits. The one run came on McMahon’s fifth home run of the season, a towering shot to right-center in the fifth.

By then, Idaho Falls (27-23, 8-4) had scored five more runs, all in the top of the fifth off Devin Burke, who relieved Shouse. Burke gave up seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, including a two-run home run to Dominique Taylor in the fifth.

After Idaho Falls added another run in the eighth, Ryan Garvey drew a two-out walk and scored on back-to-back singles by Raimel Tapia and Miguel Dilone.

“It just happens,” Dilone said of the Rockies’ slump. “You keep working every single day with a purpose and some days the game will give you everything back.”

And sometimes — like the past couple of weeks — it doesn’t.

“We’ve got to get back playing as a whole team, not just a couple of individuals,” McMahon said. “We need to show our pitchers we have their backs, because a couple of them are pitching like they have no confidence.

“Earlier in the year we were showing them we had their backs and they were flying through guys. We need to get back to having each other’s backs and start playing good baseball.”

After the game, the Rockies climbed on a bus headed for Missoula, Mont., hoping the 800-mile trip leaves this homestand in the dust. The best news is that after the overnight drive, the Rockies have today off.

“I think maybe the break (today) will clear everybody’s heads and have everybody come back focused,” McMahon said. “I know we’re going to talk some things out right now in the clubhouse and hopefully we can figure it out there.”

Notes: Outfielder Jeff Popick is out for the season. The Colorado Mesa graduate will report to the Rockies’ training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week to rehabilitate his injured right hamstring. Popick played one game in June for Tri-City in Class A ball, injuring the hamstring in his second at-bat. After six weeks of rehab, he played two games in Grand Junction and re-injured the leg Friday night when he doubled to right-center. ...

Sunday’s loss drops the Rockies, who clinched a playoff spot by winning the first-half title in the South Division, five games behind Idaho Falls and Orem in the second-half standings. Great Falls, which won the Pioneer League title last season, is 11-1 in the North, five games ahead of Helena. ...

The Chukars won seven of eight games they played in Grand Junction this season. The teams have one more series at the end of August in Idaho. ... Missoula is 4-8 to start the second half of the season and, like Grand Junction, has lost five in a row.


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