Missoula rips GJ, 17-7

A case of Helton hangover, perhaps? Or maybe a dose of Purple Sunday haze.

The Grand Junction Rockies’ Sunday woes continued in a 17-7 loss to the Missoula Osprey at sparsely populated Suplizio Field. Grand Junction is 0-5 in Sunday games.

The day after drawing its biggest crowd of the season (5,447) in Todd Helton’s final appearance during a rehab stint in Grand Junction, 2,043 braved the temperatures in the low 90s.

And on a day they could have moved into a tie for first place in the Pioneer League South, the Rockies weren’t up to the challenge. Ogden, which entered Sunday one game up on the Rockies, kept its advantage despite losing 6-5 to Great Falls (Mont.) when Grand Junction was outpitched and outhit.

“We’re just night owls. The Grand Junction Night Owls,” Rockies designated hitter Ryan Garvey said. “Sundays are just a little different. It’s an early game, and it’s hot out.

“I just think it affects us more because we always play night games, but we’ll figure out how to adjust. That’s what the game is all about, figure out how to adjust to the daytime, the 2:05 games when it gets to the peak of the day.”

Missoula (15-18) used a pair of four-run innings, collected 17 hits (eight for extra bases), hit three home runs and took advantage of nine walks by four Rockies pitchers to win the final game of the four-game series, ending the Rockies’ four-game winning streak.

“That’s what it’s all about for any club,” Diaz said. “That’s what it’s all about, and why the good ones get paid a lot.”

A pair of wall-bangers in the first inning got the Rockies off to a good start.

Ashley Graeter singled off the short porch in left with two out, and Garvey homered off the top of the double-deck wall in left. Saturday night, Garvey hit the ball into the teeth of the wind with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, ending up with a sacrifice fly.

“Of course,” Garvey said of the fate of those two fly balls and where they were hit. “He gave me a fastball in, and I got my hands in enough to just get it out there. I’ll take anything at this point.”

After the first, though, Missoula starter Karl Triana (3-1) shut Grand Junction down through the fifth inning, allowing only four more base runners. He struck out five and walked only one in his five innings.

“The starting pitcher, after that first inning, really settled down and started to attack the zone,” said Grand Junction third baseman Matt Wessinger, who went 2 for 3 with a walk. “He just showed when you’re ahead in the count what you can do with pitching.

“He started making some pretty good pitches, he started to locate better. It wasn’t just over the middle of the plate. It makes it a lot tougher on hitters when guys are picking the corners.”

It was just the opposite for Rockies starter Johendi Jiminian (0-2), who allowed only a base hit in the first inning, then gave up a three-run home run in the four-run second inning and three more runs in the third.

He lasted only three innings, allowing seven runs on six hits, walking five and striking out four.

“He shows you the flashes, he can be really good,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said. “Now it’s just a matter of when things go bad, minimize the damage. That’s what he has not been able to accomplish.”

Zach Jemiola allowed a two-run home run in the fourth, and Missoula added three more in the fifth to blow it open, 12-2.

True to their nature, though, the Rockies had a couple of rallies in them, just not big enough rallies. Once Triana went to the dugout, Chris Thomas had control problems, walking five men in the sixth inning.

The Rockies scored only three runs and left the bases loaded after Julian Yan doubled home Matt Wessinger, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by catcher Michael Perez once he tracked down the ball.

Grand Junction scored two in the eighth on David Dahl’s home run to right-center.

Five games remain in the first half of the Pioneer League season, with the Rockies in position to clinch a spot in the playoffs if they can overtake Ogden before July ends.

The last time the Rockies’ Rookie affiliate made the postseason was 2001, its first year in Casper. Right now, though, Diaz isn’t concerned about that.

“We can’t be worrying about what they do,” he said of Ogden. “We have to worry about our stuff here and see what happens at the end of the day. We’ll get ready for tomorrow; that’s all we can control.”

Diaz called Sunday’s game one to “flush down the toilet,” and then he looked on the bright side and said, “Be glad that tomorrow’s Monday.”


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