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DENVER – Any well-informed Giants fan knows to dread rooting for the Colorado Rockies in a pennant race. It’s a reputation that stands out as clearly as purple pinstripes.
Back in 1993, the Giants won 103 games and did not make the playoffs. The Atlanta Braves, then in the NL West, won 104.
The Rockies, then an expansion team, went 0-13 against the Braves that year.
From Ryan Spilborghs to Neifi Perez taking Robb Nen deep to any number of Coors Field specials over the years, the Giants seldom have an easy time at altitude.
So if these Giants narrowly miss punching a ticket to the postseason, they might look back at their 9-2 loss Wednesday afternoon, and more broadly, at a season series they couldn’t take against the NL West’s last-place club.
The Rockies homered four times off Ryan Vogelsong and were 10-9 against the Giants this season, the first time they’ve taken a season series since 2008. They’ll rendezvous again in 2015.
Colorado has six games remaining with the Dodgers, though, including the final regular-season series at Dodger Stadium. Try not to yank out every hair by the root, OK?
If the Rockies showed anything in this series, it’s that they aren’t rolling over despite playing without Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.
“You can’t look at it that way,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, asked about missed opportunities against the Rockies this season. “It’s hard to explain your record against certain clubs. The difference was at our ballpark, really, and the three games we lost when ahead.
“They play hard even though they’ve had injuries. They have guys having good years. There’s nothing worse than to think, `OK, we should beat this club.’ If a team’s pitcher is on, they have major league players and they’re playing hard to win. So you give them credit today.”
Vogelsong drew a day game at Coors Field with Angel Hernandez behind the plate, and made chicken salad for five innings. Then came a two-out walk in the fifth, followed by a single and consecutive home runs. Nolan Arenado’s three-run shot wiped out the Giants’ 2-1 lead built on a pair of RBIs from Buster Posey.
“I thought it was a fly ball when he first hit it,” said Vogelsong, of Arenado’s fence scraper.
Corey Dickerson followed with his second homer of the game, on a first-pitch curveball.
“There’s another one,” Vogelsong said. “It was a pretty good pitch, a curveball down and away. He just barreled it.”
He got more of the barrel on his first homer, a solo shot in the second inning that landed in the upper deck – or maybe the upper troposphere.
Vogelsong ended up setting a career high with four homers allowed while matching a career high with eight earned runs.
“It seemed like he got unraveled by the two-out walk and then the next inning we let it get away from us, too,” said Bochy, who didn’t go to his bullpen until the first three batters reached against Vogelsong in the sixth. “Back-to-back four-run innings is hard to overcome, even here.”
Said Vogelsong: “It’s an adventure out there. The ball flies especially during the day, every bloop hit falls because guys have to play so deep and the infield grass is quick, too. Put that all together and it can make for a long day.
“You’ve got to make pitches and I felt I did until two outs in the fifth. I’m just disappointed to have a result like that after I felt I threw the ball pretty good.”
Footnotes in the loss: Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the best by a Giant this season, with a single in the first inning. Pence nearly had more after the first two batters reached in the third, but Arenado made an acrobatic stop and recovery to start a step-and-throw double play.
Gary Brown (fly out to left field) and Chris Dominguez (double-play grounder, one of three the Giants hit in the game) also made their major league debuts as pinch hitters. And right-hander Erik Cordier, after 11 minor league seasons, hit 101 mph multiple times in his first big league outing, too.
But a day after the Giants rallied from six back, and two days after the Rockies erased a five-run deficit to win, there would be no comeback this time.
Now if they can just hold a few leads against the Dodgers…
“They showed the last two days they can swing the bats,” Vogelsong said. “You can’t just show up here and assume you can win.”