Even if Friday’s game didn’t have much bearing on the Rockies’ lost season, it mattered to the Padres, which meant it mattered to manager Bud Black.
Before the Rockies spoiled the Padres’ evening with a gripping 4-3 walk-off win in the 10th, when Alan Trejo singled home Garrett Hampson to seize the victory, Black talked to his players about maintaining the “integrity” of the season, whether they were in the playoff picture or not. The Padres, still jostling with the Phillies and Brewers in the Wild Card race, needed Friday’s game to maintain their slight cushion.
The Rockies didn’t let them. Not in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd at Coors Field that was begging its team to snap their four-game losing streak. If you hadn’t seen the rest of their underwhelming season, for one night, you might’ve thought the Rockies were still making a playoff push in September like their opponent.
Yes, they were still the Rockies, leaving guys stranded in scoring position in aggravating fashion, but there were also fundamentally sound plays, quality defense and solid pitching. Now 65-86 on the season, those pillars weren’t always a given.
But on a perfect Friday night, the Rockies got the win. In the scorebooks, it went to closer Daniel Bard.
Not only did the Rockies hold up their end of the bargain, but the start of their three-game series against the Padres also marked the much anticipated MLB debut of shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, one of the highest-rated prospects in Colorado’s farm system. In Tovar, Black said he noticed a unique comfort in his abilities. That he got to play in a competitive, meaningful environment was an added bonus.
Tovar, as Black advertised, flashed his trademark confidence early. When he came up in the second inning for his first at-bat, he jumped on the first pitch he saw and lashed a single to center. In the fourth, he saw one more pitch and whipped another single to left. He advanced to second when the next batter walked, and cruised home when Yonathan Daza laced a triple off the wall to plate two and give the Rockies a 3-2 lead.
Padres starter Sean Manaea was ousted after Daza’s timely knock, and Colorado’s lead held until the eighth inning, when newly acquired slugger Juan Soto blasted a solo homerun 440 feet to center.