Rockies lose again, fading in Pioneer League playoff race
It’s not over, but the Grand Junction Rockies’ hopes of reaching the Pioneer League playoffs for the third straight season are fading fast.
With only five games remaining in the regular season, the Rockies are 3½ games behind Ogden in the South Division after losing 9-7 to the Raptors on Saturday night, their seventh loss in the eight-game series the teams have played over the past week.
Grand Junction (40-31, 17-16) now must get back on a winning streak in the final five games, all against Orem, the team that won the first half of the South Division. The Rockies also need some help from Idaho Falls against Ogden, which needs only two wins or a combination of wins and Grand Junction losses equaling two, to clinch a spot in the playoffs, which begin Friday.
The only other way the Rockies can reach the playoffs is if Orem can make up four games on Ogden and win the second-half title — and Grand Junction must finish with a better overall record than Ogden. The Rockies have five more wins than the Raptors.
The Rockies were down 9-4 in the eighth inning Saturday when they rallied for three runs on Randy Reyes’ second home run of the game, a three-run shot to center.
In the ninth, Yonathan Daza singled and took second on a wild pitch, but Dom Nunez, Kevin Padlo and Hamlet Marte all struck out against Ogden reliever Joe Broussard.
Reyes also hit a solo home run in the sixth inning. His two home runs were the only extra-base hits for the Rockies. He went 3 for 4, scored three runs and drove in four.
Javier Palacios, coming off one of his best pitching performances of the season, struggled from the get-go, allowing eight runs on 12 hits in four innings. Palacios (6-5) struck out three and walked only one.
Marc Magliaro allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings, and Alex Rodriguez threw 1 2/3 of solid relief, allowing only one hit and striking out two of the five batters he faced.
Ogden (35-35, 20-12), scored three runs in the first inning off Palacios. Of the Raptors’ 18 hits, seven were for extra bases, including Justin Chigbogu’s league-leading 20th home run of the season, which came in the first.
PIONEER LEAGUE All-Stars
Anthony Sanders was voted the Pioneer League’s manager of the year, with eight GJ players making the honorable mention team. For the first time, no Rockies made the first team of the Pioneer League All-Star Team. The Rockies’ second-year skipper has handled the youngest team in the league well, especially juggling the lineup every night with the depth on the roster this summer.
Outfielders Yonathan Daza and Randy Reyes, catchers Dom Nunez and Hamlet Marte, third baseman Kevin Padlo and relief pitchers Yoely Bello and Alec Crawford made the honorable mention list, as did Michael Cuddyer, who went 11 for 19 in his five games on a rehab assignment. Players who are on team rosters throughout the season are eligible for all-league honors, including those promoted during the season.
Jose DeLeon of Ogden was awarded the Logan Hurlbert Award as the league’s pitcher of the year, despite being promoted to Class A earlier this month. Idaho Falls first baseman Ryan O’Hearn received the Ralph Nelles Award as the league’s MVP.