Rockies look to extend NL East success vs. Nationals

MLB Baseball

The visiting Colorado Rockies look to continue their successful swing through the National League East when they open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The Rockies (68-78) took three of four from the second-place Philadelphia Phillies last weekend, then won the first two against the first-place Atlanta Braves before the Thursday finale was rained out.

In the two games at Atlanta, Colorado relievers worked eight innings and gave up just two runs. That included five relievers combining for four scoreless innings Wednesday in a 3-2, 10-inning victory.

“A starter’s gonna do his job and over 162 there’s gonna be games like tonight where every reliever has to perform, and if he does, we’re gonna win the game,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.

Washington (60-86) had a chance to win its three-game series with the Marlins but dropped the series finale 8-6 on Wednesday.

Nationals starter Josh Rogers was lifted after five scoreless innings, but the bullpen then allowed at least one run every inning. Closer Kyle Finnegan recorded the final out in the eighth but surrendered four runs in the ninth, including Jesus Sanchez’s go-ahead, two-run homer, blowing his third save in 12 attempts.

“Just one of those days for Finnegan,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “Finnegan has done unbelievably for us all year long. He’ll be back out there Friday.”

Thursday’s washout pushed Colorado right-hander German Marquez (12-10, 3.93 ERA) to Friday’s opener with Washington. Marquez is coming off his best start since the All-Star break, six scoreless innings on six hits in a win over the Phillies on Sept. 10. He struck out six with one walk.

Marquez also contributed an RBI single. He now has seven RBIs to go with a .245 batting average as he seeks another Silver Slugger trophy to go with the one he earned in 2018.

“I think because of his success at the plate the last couple years, he’s sort of gained momentum and confidence, and you want to do more,” Black said. “It feels good to be recognized as a Silver Slugger winner. It feels good to hit a ball on the barrel and knock guys in as a pitcher.”

Marquez is 2-1 with a 6.50 ERA in three career starts vs. the Nationals.

Rookie right-hander Josiah Gray (0-2, 6.00 ERA) goes for Washington. He is looking to bounce back from a trio of subpar outings. On Saturday, he gave up five runs on three hits and six walks in five innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I think a lot of the walks, those at-bats started 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 sometimes, so just getting behind early, having to play catch-up,” Gray said. “Obviously, you have to be a little finer when you’re behind in counts, and I got way too behind today.”

Gray, then a Dodger, made his first major league start against the Rockies on July 25, allowing two runs in four innings.

Despite losing Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber at the trade deadline, offense hasn’t been a problem for the Nationals, who are first in the NL in batting average (.258) and on-base percentage (.335).

Juan Soto (hitting .314 with 25 home runs and a .457 on-base percentage) continues to make a case for Most Valuable Player consideration, having reached base safely in 18 of his last 19 games. Josh Bell, who had three hits including a homer on Wednesday, has hit safely in 19 of his past 23 games.

–Field Level Media

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