Rockies blow “California tie-breaker” with 5-2 loss to Angels in extra innings

Put this in a time capsule and label it “2020, the season of missed opportunities and heartbreak.”

The Rockies lost 5-2 to the Los Angeles Angels at Coors Field on Saturday-evening when Jared Walsh shot a three-run homer off Tyler Kinley in the 11th inning.

But this loss can’t be pinched on Kinley, who certainly pitched well enough in the 10th inning to get the Rockies ready for a win. And starter Kyle Freeland certainly pitched well enough to let Colorado win.

But because the Rockies had an excellent chance of winning the game in 10th under the new “California tie-breaker” system, they didn’t. Foaming, repeat.

Raimel Tapia held a perfect sacrifice bunt to bring Elias Diaz to third base, but Ty Buttrey retired Trevor Story while watching, and after walking Charlie Blackmon intentionally, Buttrey Nolan Arenado grounded weakly.

The hero of the night should have been the much-maligned bullpen of the Rockies who threw four scoreless innings until Kinley gave up the second deck homer in the eleventh inning.

Freeland again gave the Rockies the kind of start they needed, limiting the Angels to two runs on four hits over six innings. Freeland has a rock-solid 3.54 ERA after 10 starts.

Angel’s righthanded Jaime Barria matched Freeland and gave up two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Colorado bullpen backed Freeland with nasty work from Yency Almonte, Carlos Estevez, and Daniel Bard. Almonte hit Walsh and gave up a double to Mike Trout in the seventh, but escaped by getting Anthony Rendon a short distance to get a grounder to Story.

Estevez, who has been a pinata lately, was sharp, gave up one goal, but struckout two in the eighth.

Bard’s ninth inning was an adventure. He scored two quick ones before Jared Walsh singled through the middle and then Bard essentially threw around dangerous Mike Trout and left him four pitches. But Bard got Anthony Rendon to fly to the center to end the threat.

Colorado scored first and scratched a run off Barria in the third, combining a walk by Tony Wolters, a single by Story and a sacrifice fly to the center of Blackmon.

The Angels responded with a run on Freeland in the fourth. A walk by Trout, singles by Albert Pujols and Justin Upton and a sacrifice fly by Max Stassi tied the score at 1-1.

Colorado took a momentary 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame on an RBI-single by Ryan McMahon who then completed a nine-pitch at bat for a hit from the opposite field to the left to score Josh Fuentes.

Los Angeles tied the game 2-2 in the sixth on an RBI-double by Pujols off the wall on leftfield to score Rendon from first base. Pujols’ double was the 669th of his career, overtaking Craig Biggio and taking Pujols to fifth place of all time. Freeland, who had two basehits and a walk in the inning, staggered a bit, but he eliminated Jo Adell on a 3-2 pitch to shut down the rally.