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Rockies hold on late for 8-7 win

Rockies

A pitcher’s duel suddenly turned into an offensive explosion on Tuesday night as the Rockies held on to beat the Diamondbacks 8-7 at Coors Field.

Kyle Freeland started for Colorado and went seven innings allowing two runs and was matched by Arizona’s Zac Gallen who did the same. But in the bottom of the eighth inning the Rockies sent 11 men to the plate, scored six runs and took an 8-2 lead into the ninth. Game over right? Not quite.

Phillip Diehl and Jairo Díaz came on for the Rockies and combined to give up five runs on six hits and a walk, while recording just two outs. Enter Daniel Bard who finished things off for his first save since 2011 by striking out Stephen Vogt.

Charlie Blackmon continued his red-hot hitting with another three-hit performance to run his hitting streak to 15 games, two shy of his career best. He’s now hitting .500 on the season, promoting MLB.com to ponder if he could hit .400 this season.

  • Colorado looks to win its sixth straight series to start the season in the rubber match this afternoon (1:10 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) as Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.65 ERA) takes on Arizona’s Luke Weaver (0-3, 12.19 ERA).
  • There has been a noticeable drop in the velocity of Jon Gray’s four-seam fastball this season. Last year he averaged 96.0 mph with his four-seamer, so far this year it’s been 93.8 mph. Gray’s not sure what the problem is though because he said he feels fine.

Avalanche

The waiting is finally over for the Colorado Avalanche and their fans, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is today (3:30 p.m., NBCSN, Altitude, 92.5 FM) against the Arizona Coyotes.

And the best news is fans throughout the Denver metro area will be able to watch it, as well as the rest of the Avs first-round series thanks to a decision by Altitude to not blackout the nationally televised broadcast. The same will be true for the Nuggets first-round playoff series as well.

Avalanche-Coyotes playoff schedule

DateTime (MT)Home team
Wed., Aug. 123:30 p.m.Colorado
Fri., Aug. 14NoonColorado
Sat., Aug. 151 p.m.Arizona
Mon., Aug. 173:30 p.m.Arizona
*Wed., Aug. 19TBDColorado
*Fri., Aug. 21TBDArizona
*Sun., Aug. 23TBDColorado
*If necessary. All games played at Rogers Place, Edmonton

Colleges

On Tuesday both the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences announced that they were postponing the football season until the spring. While the Big Ten canceled its fall sports seasons for the time being, the Pac-12 took it a step further by postponing all sports through the end 2020, affecting winter sports as well.

For CU, the decision obviously postpones the football season, but also women’s golf, women’s volleyball, cross country and the fall seasons of golf and women’s tennis. The men’s and women’s basketball seasons, which usually start in early November will be pushed back to January at the earliest.

“The decision to postpone the fall sports seasons and to delay the start of the winter ones was not made in haste – but in light of current virus trends and the long term health impacts of COVID-19 remaining unknown, this was determined to be the best course of action for the health and safety of our student-athletes.”

CU athletic director Rick George said in a press release.

As it stands right now, 53 of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams have canceled the fall season.

Nuggets

The Nuggets play their second-to-last seeding game tonight (7 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) against the Clippers.

Denver currently is the No. 3 seed in the West and could overtake the Clippers for No. 2 if Denver wins its final two games and L.A. loses its final two. The Nuggets also could fall to the fourth seed if they drop both games and Houston wins its final two.

  • TheAthletic.com’s Kendra Andrews wrote about what Monday’s loss to the Lakers says about the Nuggets bench going forward. Denver’s bench outscored the Lakers’ 57-28 in the game.
  • For you sports bettors out there, make sure to take advantage of FanDuel’s incredible offer for tonight Nuggets-Clippers game. As of this writing the Nuggets are +87 at -110 odds. What does that mean? If you bet $50, the max allowed for this offer, and the Nuggets don’t lose by 87 points or more you’ll win $45.45. So yeah, it’s free money.

Broncos

Running back Phillip Lindsay spoke to the media on Tuesday and among other things he talked about how he’s “going to have a hell of a season.”

I’ve written before that I think Lindsay got shortchanged by the Broncos this offseason. Free-agent Melvin Gordon signed a two-year $16 million deal, while Lindsay will be making $750,000 this season.

I’m not convinced Lindsay isn’t the better back, but no matter what he deserved to get a raise for what he did during his first two years in the league with the Broncos. Here’s hoping he has an even better 2020 season and finally cashes in with a big contract.

High school

The Denver Post’s Andy Yamashita wrote about the decision Colorado volleyball players might have to make going forward, play high school or club?

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Gray stumbles as Rockies drop second straight

Rockies

Nolan Arenado returned to the lineup after an off day Sunday and went 4-for-4, while Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to 14 games with four hits of his own, unfortunately for the first time this season Colorado’s pitchers got hammered as the Diamondbacks held on for the 12-8 win Monday night at Coors Field.

Jon Gray started and lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs on 11 hits, including a leadoff home run to Kole Calhoun to open the game. Despite the loss Colorado remains in first in the NL West, a half game ahead of the Dodgers and 1.5 ahead of the Padres.

The Rockies had trimmed an 8-3 deficit down to one by the seventh inning when shortstop Trevor Story misplayed a possible double-play grounder into a two-run single. Story’s been great at the plate this season, but he does have four errors already.

  • Lefty Kyle Freeland (2-0, 2.41 ERA) gets the start tonight (6:4o p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) for Colorado against Arizona’s Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.81 ERA).
  • Not only does Blackmon have a 14-game hitting streak, he’s leading the majors in batting average (.484), on-base percentage (.514) and on-base plus slugging (1.217). He’s been so hot that manager Bud Black compared him to former greats Barry Bonds and George Brett.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote about Story, and how he’s underrated, but undeterred and that he just keeps getting better.
  • Meanwhile, TheAthletic.com’s Nick Groke wrote about where the Rockies stand a quarter of the way through the season. He focused on Freeland, the depth of the starting rotation and Blackmon’s tear so far this season.
  • The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders talked to Freeland who said the Rockies’ pitching staff is pitching with a chip on its shoulder this season.
    He also talked to Black who said if outfielder David Dahl breaks out of his slump he likely would return to the top of Colorado’s batting order.

Nuggets

Despite sitting all of their starters for the entire fourth quarter the Nuggets nearly knocked off the top-seeded Lakers on Monday night in Orlando. Instead, Kyle Kuzma knocked down the game-winning three pointer over Bol Bol with 0.4 seconds remaining as Denver lost 124-121.

Coming off a thrilling double overtime win against Utah on Sunday head coach Michael Malone was more concerned with not over working his players vs. Los Angeles.

Jamal (Murray), Michael (Porter Jr.), Nikola (Jokic), Jerami (Grant) have all played an extremely high amount of minutes. So, this game is an opportunity for us to compete, to get better, go out there and be prepared to win, like we do every night, but whether we win or lose, I’m not going to look too much into this because of who’s available and us closely monitoring how much we’re playing our key players.”

Michael Malone said before Monday night’s game against the Lakers.

So instead, as the Nuggets headed to the fourth quarter with the score tied at 88 Denver rode a lineup of Bol, Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris, P.J. Dozier and Keita Bates-Diop against LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“Couldn’t be more proud of our group. I thought we played extremely hard against the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. … For us to sit our starters that whole fourth quarter and to have guys on the bench out there giving them all they could handle and lose a heartbreaker is always tough.”

Malone said after the game.

Porter led the Nuggets in scoring with 15 points in 24 minutes of action, while Jokic added 12 points in 25 minutes.

  • Next up for the Nuggets is the other L.A. team, the Clippers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ESPN, Altitude, 92.5 FM). Then it’s the final game before the playoffs on Friday as Denver takes on Toronto at 1:30 p.m. (Altitude, 92.5 FM).
  • Denver is 1.5 games behind the Clippers for the No. 2 seed in the West, and one game ahead of the Rockets.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind wrote about whether the Nuggets will be able to balance building chemistry while maintaining a healthy roster.
  • Both ESPN.com and TheAthletic.com released their latest NBA Power rankings. The Nuggets checked in at No. 5 on ESPN and No. 8 on TheAthletic.

Colleges

Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker confirmed reports that the Mountain West is postponing its fall football season due to coronavirus concerns. With the announcement CSU, Air Force and Wyoming are all left waiting to see if the season will be played come spring.

Now all eyes locally turn to the Pac-12 Conference which could make an announcement as early as today as to whether the season will be postponed or canceled. Several media outlets were reporting the Pac-12 and Big Ten could make a decision in tandem.

  • The Denver Post’s Sean Keller wrote about how if the Buffs and the Pac-12 do play this season then it will prove that it’s about the money, not player safety.
  • Buffzone.com’s Pat Rooney wrote that even though college football players want to play, that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to.
  • My thoughts: I think college sports, football and men’s basketball in particular, are headed for a reckoning of sorts. For way too long the structure of college athletics at the Division-1 level has been a mess. There’s no reason that at CU the football team should have to play in order to fund the athletics department as a whole. How is it that D-II and D-III schools have sports teams, when they don’t have football and men’s basketball teams that generate huge sums of money? It’s ridiculous that it’s taken a global pandemic for this problem to finally get addressed, but now the question is whether the power that be actually will figure out a solution. And that’s the other problem, there’s no one actually in charge. We’re seeing it right now with each conference making its own decisions and with schools like Nebraska saying they’ll find somewhere else to play if the Big Ten does close up shop. Imagine the NFL allowing each division to decide what its teams are going to do this season, it would be chaos. Which is exactly what we have right now thanks to the NCAA.

Avalanche

With the first round of the NHL playoffs starting today TheAthletic.com released its Power Rankings and coming in at No. 1 is the Colorado Avalanche. No. 2 in the rankings is the team who beat the Avs on Sunday, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Not surprisingly in the prediction section of the article all the voters picked the Avs to beat the Coyotes in the teams’ first round series which starts Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN, Altitude, 92.5 FM).

Broncos

The Broncos announced their training camp practice schedule for this year on Monday. As of right now the team’s first practice is scheduled for this Friday and they are slated to have 18 practices over the following three weeks.

Denver opens the regular season at home on Monday, Sept. 14 against the Tennessee Titans.

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Homers power Rockies past Giants

Rockies

Colorado got home runs from Trevor Story, Daniel Murphy and Charlie Blackmon as the Rockies rallied from a 3-1 seventh inning deficit to beat the Giants 6-4 on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.

With the win the Rockies won their fourth straight series to begin the season for the first time in franchise history. At 9-3 overall Colorado is off to its second-best start in history, only the 2011 team was better at 10-2.

Lefty Kyle Freeland had another solid start for the Rockies. He took a shutout into the seventh before allowing three runs in the frame and getting pulled with two outs. Yency Almonte came in and picked up his first win of the season, while Jairo Díaz worked 1 1/3 innings for his third save of the season.

  • The Rockies now head to Seattle for a three-game series starting tonight at 7:40 p.m. (AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM). Antonio Senzatela (2-0, 2.45 ERA) will start for Colorado against Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.66 ERA).
  • Manager Bud Black is using different players in the DH role lately, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story for example, and will continue to do so in order to help lighten the load for players during a busy stretch of the season. Both David Dahl and Nolan Arenado figure to be DH candidates in the future.
  • TheAthletic.com’s Nick Groke wrote about how Rockies ace Germán Márquez is working on improving his knuckle-curve, already one of the best pitches in baseball.
  • The Denver Post’s Kyle Newman wrote about how Story already is making a case for National League MVP honors this season.

Nuggets

Portland Damian Lillard torched the Nuggets for 45 points, including 11 threes, as the Nuggets two-game winning streak was snapped with a 125-115 loss to the Trail Blazers on Thursday afternoon in Orlando.

Denver was was again shorthanded as the Nuggets were without Paul Millsap (rest), Jamal Murray (hamstring), Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip).

Michael Porter Jr. once again led Denver in scoring with 27 points to go along with 12 rebounds, while Nikola Jokić only played 23 minutes and scored just eight points, although he did add 13 assists and five rebounds.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was still impressed with his team’s overall performance.

“They’re playing for their playoffs lives with all their starters, and we’ve got guys that have not played a lot of minutes in the NBA, and we’re giving them all they can handle. I wish we would’ve played with that same intensity in that second quarter, obviously, and there’s a lot to work on in terms of our defense and our 3-point defense, but you can’t ask for guys to play any harder than we did in that second half.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone
  • Denver now trails the Clippers by 1.5 games for second place in the Western Conference. Next up for the Nuggets is the Utah Jazz on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (TNT, Altitude, 92.5 FM).
  • TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind handed out player grades after the Nuggets’ loss. A few guys made the honor roll, while Torrey Craig might not want to show his parents his report card.

Avalanche

Vegas beat St. Louis 6-4 on Thursday night, meaning that the winner of the Avalanche-Golden Knights game on Saturday will be the West’s No. 1 seed, with the loser being No. 2.

When regular-season play was halted due to COVID-19 the Blues had been the top team in the Western Conference, but after back-to-back losses to the Avs and Knights the best they can do now is the third seed.

A time for Saturday’s Colorado-Vegas game has not been announced as of yet.

Broncos

Denver safety Justin Simmons talked to the media on Thursday and among other things said he wasn’t disappointed in the lack of a long-term deal this offseason and is ready to “focus on winning football games.”

Simmons is set to player this year on the franchise tag, which for safeties totals $11.441 million.

  • Meanwhile, guard Dalton Risner talked about learning to play other positions along the offensive line just in case he’s needed there due to right tackle Ja’Wuan James’ decision to opt out of the season due to coronavirus concerns.
  • And in the on-going, seemingly never-ending saga that is the Broncos ownership situation the trial that is at the heart of it was pushed back to 2021. The trial between Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace was slated to begin Sept. 1.

Local colleges

According to reports the Big Sky Conference will cancel its football season, meaning the Ed McCaffery era at Northern Colorado will be delayed for a year. As of now no official announcement has been made.

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Avs blank Stars 4-0, eye No. 1 seed

Avalanche

Pavel Francouz made 27 saves and became the first goalie in Avs history to post a shutout in his first postseason game as Colorado dominated Dallas 4-0 in the teams’ second of three round-robin games on Wednesday in Edmonton.

Rookie Cale Makar got the scoring started just 3:19 into the first period on the power play. Joonas Donskoi later scored just after an Avs’ power play ended to give Colorado a 2-0 lead. Vladislav Namestnikov scored late in the second period and Andre Burakovsky added the final tally early in the third.

Colorado faces the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (time to be determined) and with a win would earn the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

  • TheAthletic.com’s Ryan S. Clark wrote about what the Avs will do throughout the rest of the playoffs with two goalies in Francouz and Philipp Grubauer who have both looked very sharp in Colorado’s first two games.
    My thoughts: In hockey you almost always have a clear No. 1 goalie, so the idea of going with two during the playoffs just feels weird. But the reality of the matter is it’s worked with the Avs so far, so what’s wrong with sticking with it. And if one guy gets hot or goes cold then you can make an adjustment, but until then, don’t try to fix what’s not broken.
  • TheDNVR’s Evan Rawal handed out grades to the Avs after the victory over the Stars.
  • Unfortunately, The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla was forced to write about how ridiculous it is that so many fans in Colorado still can not watch the Nuggets and Avs because of Altitude not being able to reach an agreement with Comcast and Dish Network.

Nuggets

Michael Porter Jr. had his second straight 30-point game as the Nuggets rallied to beat San Antonio 132-126 on Wednesday afternoon in Orlando. Porter finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and made five threes in Denver’s second straight win.

The Nuggets also got another solid game from center Nikola Jokić who finished with 25 points and 11 assists. Monte Morris, starting in place of injured Jamal Murray had 19 points, four assists and zero turnovers. Both Jerami Grant (22 points) and P.J. Dozier (12 points and eight assists) led the Nuggets off the bench.

Denver is in third place in the Western Conference standings at 45-23, two games clear of fourth place Utah and just a half game behind the Clippers. The Nuggets are back in action tonight as they face Portland at 6 p.m. (Altitude, 92.5 FM).

  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Porter became the first rookie to score 65 points while shooting 65% or better and grab at least 25 rebounds in back-to-back games since Shaquille O’Neal in 1993.
    My thoughts: Stats like this are fun, but also not really accurate at this point. While technically still a rookie this is more like Porter’s third season than his first. He basically took a medical redshirt Year 1, and then with the four-month layoff this season due to COVID-19 it’s hard to really consider him a rookie. Either way he’s been fun to watch and if he keeps it up this year and going forward the Nuggets should be serious championship contenders.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Adam Mares broke down the play of Grant and looked at how he shows off an under-utilized skill.

Rockies

Nolan Arenado homered in his third straight game, but it wasn’t enough as Colorado’s four-game winning streak was snapped with a 4-3 loss to the Giants on Wednesday night at Coors Field.

Starter Jon Gray pitched well (six innings, three earned runs), but Brandon Belt tagged him for a three-run home run in the fourth inning and San Francisco added another run in the six to pick up the win.

  • Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to nine games and is hitting .378 this season, especially impressive when you remember he missed the start of Summer Camp due to a battle with COVID-19.
  • The Rockies and Giants finish off their four-game series this afternoon (1:10 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) with Kyle Freeland taking on the Giants’ Tyler Anderson, a former first-round pick of the Rockies.
  • Freeland is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA after two starts this year, and one of the reasons for his early-season success has been throwing more changeups.
  • Reliever Wade Davis, who was placed on the injured list with a right shoulder strain, has not yet begun throwing and continues to receive treatment.

Broncos

There’s no question the Broncos are going to be very reliant on young players this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. TheDNVR.com’s Andrew Mason looked at how Courtland Sutton and the rest of the offensive will attempt to build some chemistry, especially with the impact coronavirus has had on everything.

  • Along very much the same lines, PFF.com’s Sam Monson looked at whether Denver can challenge this year, with so much of a dependance on young players.
  • Over at TheAthletic.com Sheil Kapadia ranked all the NFL offenses from 1-32. Where’d the Broncos check in? How about 27th, one spot down from where they had them ranked last year. Clearly Kapadia believes the Broncos youth is a detriment, not a blessing.

CU Buffs

In some very sad news long-time CU Buffs fan Betty Hoover died Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Hoover was 95 years old.

She, along with her twin sister Peggy Coppom, have been iconic fans at Buffs games for 80 years. She will be missed.

CSU Rams

Colorado State’s football scheduled was revealed, kind of, on Wednesday. Assuming it happens, the Rams will play eight conference games, with the opener coming the week of Sept. 26. CSU’s lone remaining non-conference game vs. Northern Colorado is now in limbo. As for who they’ll actual face? According to The Denver Post story, the scheduling models for the Mountain West Conference season remain “under consideration.”

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Avs win opener with less than a second to play

Avalanche

In one of the most exciting finishes you’ll see in a regulation NHL game the Avs beat the Blues 2-1 on Sunday as Nazem Kadri scored with 0.01 seconds to play in the teams’ first game of robin-round play of the NHL restart in Edmonton.

Obviously, winning is paramount for the Avs, and every team, but even more important is the fact that it happened in regulation. By winning in regulation Colorado earned two points, while St. Louis got zero. Had the game gone to overtime, both teams would have been assured of a point.

After Kadri scored it took officials almost seven minutes to declare it was officially a goal. Replays showed a blurry puck being mostly across the line, but the next frame the clock went to 0.00 when it was clearly across the goal line.

The Avs are now in first place in the Western Conference round-robin, their next game is Wednesday (4:30 p.m.) against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Rockies

It’s hard to believe the Rockies’ season is just over a week old, but with a 6-2 record through eight games Colorado is in first place in the NL West. The Rockies won their third straight series on Sunday by beating the Padres 9-6 behind Antonio Senzatela’s pitching and the bats of Daniel Murphy and Matt Kemp.

Senzatela (2-0) went six innings, struck out six and allowed just one run on four hits and one walk. Murphy went 4-for-4 with a home and two RBI, while Kemp added his second homer of the season and drove in two as well.

Colorado is percentage points ahead of the Dodgers (7-3) in the West standings and one game ahead of the third place Padres.

Colorado welcomes in the San Francisco Giants to Coors Field tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 KOA) with righty Chi Chi González scheduled to make his first start of the season.

Nuggets

After dropping their first game of the NBA restart 125-105 to the Miami Heat on Saturday the Nuggets are back at it again today as they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at 2 p.m. (Altitude, 92.5 FM).

Denver was without starters Will Barton (knee), Gary Harris (hip) and Jamal Murray (hamstring) in its first game back and both Barton and Harris have already been ruled out of today’s game, while Murray is questionable.

My thoughts: It still is very early, counting today the Nuggets have seven seeding games remaining, but I’m starting to feel more and more like the Nuggets could be one-and-done when it comes playoff time this season.

Every team has had a lot to deal with during the NBA restart, from players opting out to getting guys into and out of the NBA quarantine. It just feels like the Nuggets can’t get any traction built up. And while many people have referred to these seeding games a like the preseason, Denver coach Michael Malone made the great point that the playoffs don’t follow the preseason.

If Denver can’t get everyone on the court in the next few games I fear there simply is not going to be enough time to get in sync before the playoffs start. And with the Western Conference being as deep as it is that’s almost a sure ticket to a first-round exit.

  • TheAthletic.com’s Kendra Andrews wrote about how the Nuggets sloppy third quarter against the Heat highlighted the struggles the team is facing as a whole.

Broncos

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio talked about the possibility the team will have live practice periods this month, something hardly ever seen anymore, but without any preseason games it might be a necessity this year.

“Obviously with no preseason games, we’ll lose those evaluation times. It will be a challenge for young players to learn and adapt to the game. … Maybe in practices, we’ll have to have some live action in there on occasion. I’ve never been many places where that’s been done in practice. We just relied on the preseason games for that.”

Vic Fangio told The Denver Post

CU Buffs

Over the weekend it was announced that CU star McKinley Wright will return to Boulder for his senior season with men’s basketball team. Previously Wright had submitted his name for the NBA Draft.

Nationally

Forbes released its annual list of the 50 most valuable sports teams over the weekend. The Top 5 were:
1. Dallas Cowboys ($5.5 billion)

2. New York Yankees ($5 billion)

3. New York Knicks ($4.6 billion)

4. Los Angeles Lakers ($4.4 billion)

5. Golden State Warriors ($4.3 billion)

The Denver Broncos checked in at No. 25 with a valuation of $3 billion. No other Colorado teams made the list, while no NHL teams at were in the Top 50.

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Gray faces Padres in Rockies’ home opener

Rockies

It’s the last day of July and even though there won’t be fans in the stands or packing the streets of LoDo like most years, today still is the Rockies home opener. As such The Denver Post looked back at five of the team’s most notable home openers in its history. No. 5 on the list was Mike Hampton’s debut in 2001 after signing a record eight-year, $121 million contract in the offseason.

As for today’s opener (6:10 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 AM), Jon Gray takes the mound against the San Diego Padres, a team he’s fared extremely well against in his career. Despite Gray’s overall record of success with Colorado it also will be the first time in his career starting the home opener.

“I’m ready for that real competition there, and I feel like I always have an edge (at Coors Field), so I’m excited. (At home I pitch) knowing that I’m going to out-do the other guy and knowing that our lineup is going to hit the ball. It’s a good combination and it makes you feel confident.”

Jon Gray told The Denver Post

As for the rest of the three-game series, lefty Kyle Freeland is scheduled to start Saturday (6:10 p.m.) and righty Antonio Senzatela will take the mound Sunday (1:10 p.m.)

Nuggets

The NBA season started back up last night as the Jazz beat the Pelicans (106-104) and the Lakers topped the Clippers (103-101) in two tight games. The Nuggets still have another day to wait as they reopen play Saturday morning (11 a.m.) against Miami.

In the meantime coach Michael Malone told TheAthletic.com that where they Nuggets ended up seeded is not his biggest concern.

“Right now, to be honest, I am not concerned about our seeding. Having clinched a playoff spot, my No. 1 concern is health. That continues to be a huge concern for me, a huge point of emphasis. So, can we find a way to get healthy come August 17? With that being said, we have to find ways to start improving.”

Head coach Michael Malone

On the forefront of those concerns is the status of Denver’s Will Barton who has been dealing with right knee soreness while in the bubble.

Avalanche

It’s the Rockies home opener today, the Nuggets first game back tomorrow and then Sunday is about the Avs as they kick off their NHL restart against the St. Louis Blues (4:30 p.m., Altitude) in the round-robin portion to determine the Western Conferences top 4 seeds.

TheDNVR’s AJ Haefele wrote about the glue guys on the Avs, who Colorado will need in order to go deep into the playoffs this season.

Broncos

Fullback/tight end Andrew Beck became the first Broncos player to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. NFL rules prohibit the team from revealing whether he tested positive for coronavirus or needs to be quarantined because he was around a person who tested positive.

  • In an ESPN.com article Rivers McCown ranked the Top 25 young NFL players poised for a breakout season. No. 2 on the list is Denver defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones. Arguably Jones’ best game last season came in Week 16 against the Lions when he recorded 2.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the week.

CU Buffs

The CU football team keeps adding to its 2021 recruiting class. The latest addition is Kaylin Moore, a three-star athlete out of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High School. Moore is Colorado’s 11th commit for 2021 and the sixth since July 13.

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Rockies sweep A’s, home opener up next

Rockies

The Rockies improved to 4-1 on the season after beating the A’s 5-1 on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland to sweep the two-game series. No. 1 starter Germán Márquez gave up a home run in the first inning, but cruised the rest of the way. He finished with eight strikeouts, three hits and just one walk during six innings of work.

The offensive still wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but they got the job done for the Rockies when it mattered most. Including adding a run in the eighth and two more in the ninth to make it a much more comfortable win.

My thoughts: First off, I love this shortened MLB season. In a normal year Márquez wouldn’t have started yesterday because teams want to get their fifth starter work. How much better is it that teams are simply trying to win each game, instead of treating the whole season like a marathon.
As for the Rockies as a whole, it’s been a great start and we’re already through a 12th of the season and Colorado is alone in first place in the NL West. Really, what more could you ask for from them.

Avalanche

Colorado played its first game in more than four months, albeit of the exhibition variety, as the Avs beat Minnesota 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon in Edmonton.

Joonas Donskoi, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog all scored for the Avs in the win. Colorado managed to kill seven-of-eight penalties during the win.

Colorado has a bye in the best-of-five play-in round that starts Saturday. Instead, the Avs open play Sunday against the St. Louis Blues in what will determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference.

Nuggets

While the Nuggets don’t play until Saturday, the NBA season tips off tonight with Utah taking on New Orleans and the Lakers and Clippers squaring off with one another.

TheAthletic.com wrote about “Numbers to know about all 22 teams in the bubble.” The numbers to know about the Nuggets? 66.1% and 10.3%. Those were Bol Bol’s true shooting and block percentages during his eight games of G League action this year for the Windy City Bulls. It’s safe to say Bol’s play has been one of the biggest storylines of the NBA’s return so far.

My thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be talking about Bol much until at least next season at this point. Coach Michael Malone struggled to play Michael Porter Jr. during big chunks of the season and that was when the games were much less important and when he’d seen Porter play more in practice and training camp.

I just have a hard time believing Malone is going to give Bol many minutes, if any, unless the Nuggets suffer a few injuries or are really, really struggling.

Broncos

Yesterday I wrote about PFF.com’s quarterback rankings. Well, today they’ve got their team-by-team backfield rankings up. I assumed Denver would be near the middle of the pack, and PFF.com actually had them a little higher at No. 12.

Not surprisingly, they’re high on Phillip Lindsay’s play, but are more questioning about the addition of Melvin Gordon. As they point out, Gordon was great in 2018, but during the rest of his NFL career he’s simply been average.

My thoughts: I was never a fan of the offseason signing of Gordon. I think the Broncos overpaid for him and risk alienating Lindsay in the process.

I would have much rather seen them give Lindsay a raise and either sign a cheaper free-agent back or pick one high in the NFL Draft.

CSU Rams

Colorado State’s football team temporarily suspended activities after as many as 17 people within the CSU athletics department tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are taking this step to voluntarily pause football activities to minimize the opportunity for this virus to spread any further. We will always put the health and safety of our student-athletes and community first, and while we are disappointed to see this spread occur within our program, we remain encouraged for the continued collaboration we have experienced with our University’s Pandemic Preparedness Team, local, county, and state health officials.”

CSU athletic director Joe Parker via a news release.

CU Buffs

Buffzone.com’s Brian Howell wrote about how head coach Karl Dorrell is earning the respect of his team.

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Rockies roll to 8-3 win

Rockies

Colorado ran its winning streak to three after its first comfortable win of the season by beating Oakland 8-3 on Tuesday night. Antonio Senzatela battled out of a jam in the first inning and picked up his first win of the season in the process. His final line: 5 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 3 strikeouts and 3 walks. Not incredible, but if the Rockies can get that on a consistent basis from their fourth starter it should be more than enough.

On the offensive side of things, Sam Hilliard went 2-for-5 with a double and two-run home run in the fourth inning off A’s starter Daniel Mengden. Every Colorado starter got at least one hit in the game, something that only happened twice last season, although in most of their games last year the Rockies didn’t have the benefit of the DH.

The Rockies and A’s finish off their short two-game series this afternoon (1:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850AM) with Germán Márquez taking on Oakland’s Frankie Montas.

Broncos

John Elway and Vic Fangio held their opening press conferences to begin Training Camp on Tuesday. Here is what we learned:

Defensive tackle Kyle Peko is the first Broncos player to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Players have until Saturday to opt and and when asked if other players will opt out Elway said “There have been some rumblings about a couple of guys but haven’t heard anything else yet.”

Denver made moves to get its roster down to 80 players. Left tackle Elijah Wilkinson was put on the physically unable to perform list. While they waived rookie wide receiver Zimari Manning and placed rookie guard Netane Muti on the non-football injury list. Muti and Wilkinson are eligible to return at any time, but once they are taken off the lists they can’t be put back on.

Elway said that the Broncos and safety Justin Simmons were never close to getting a long-term contract done this offseason.

Bradley Chubb is not 100% yet, but according to Fangio “he’s pretty damn close.” Chubb is expected to practice with the team at the beginning of camp.

Fangio also said he senses a new “hunger, attitude” with linebacker Von Miller.

And both Elway and Fangio talked about the challenges ahead for the 2020 season as a whole.

Avalanche

The Avs return to the ice today to a play a game for the first time since mid-March as they take on the Minnesota Wild in an exhibition game in Edmonton.

The puck drops at 12:30 p.m. and while be televised on Altitude.

The Avs and Wild likely will have a show of unity before the game similar to what Pittsburgh and Philadelphia did on Tuesday. The Penguins and Flyers stood together on the same blue line during the playing of the American and Canadian national anthems as a show of support for racial inequality and against police brutality.

  • TheAthletic.com anonymously surveyed 20 NHL head and assistant coaches ahead of the NHL restart and a couple of the answer should be encouraging to Avs fans.
    When asked “Which star player has the ability to carry his team to a Stanley Cup?” Nathan MacKinnon was the runaway winner with 45% of the vote. Sidney Crosby was next highest at 20%.
    When asked “Which player returning from injury will make the biggest impact?” Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen came in third behind Seth Jones and Jake Guentzel.
    And lastly, Denver received one vote when asked “If you could have picked your ideal hub city, where would it be?”

Nuggets

A day after an impressive debut in the Nuggets’ final scrimmage rookie Michael Porter Jr. brought controversy onto himself during a Q&A on Snapchat.

Porter was asked if the coronavirus was being used to scare people and this is how he responded.

“(It’s) being used for population control in just terms of being able to control the masses of people. Because of the virus, the whole world is being controlled. I mean, you’re required to wear masks, and who knows what will happen when this vaccine comes out? You might have to have the vaccine in order to travel.”

Michael Porter Jr.

He went on to say he’s never been vaccinated in his life and added that during the NBA shutdown he was playing 5-on-5 with his friends in Missouri because “guys down there really weren’t paying the virus too much attention early on.”

  • In on the court action, TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind wrote about how if the Jamal Murray and Porter we saw on Monday night, show up for the reason of the season and playoffs the Nuggets could make a deep run.

CU Buffs

Colorado landed its 10th commit for 2021 class with 3-star safety Trevor Woods.

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Rockies win opening series in Texas

Rockies

Kyle Freeland pitched six innings, and allowed two runs as the Rockies beat the Rangers 5-2 on Sunday. With the win Colorado won the opening series over the Rangers, having won two of three games.

It took awhile, but the Rockies hit their first home runs of the season on Sunday as shortstop Trevor Story connected on a two-run shot in the fourth inning and added a solo homer in the sixth.

My thoughts: It’s tough to read too much into any single series of a baseball season, but at least through three games Colorado’s pitching was outstanding. The Rockies held Texas to five total runs in the series.

On the flip side, the offensive’s struggles are pretty concerning as Colorado only managed eight runs in the series and was shutout in the opener.

  • The Rockies are off today before playing a two-game series in Oakland on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then comes another off day before the Rockies home opener on Friday vs. the Padres.
    Antonio Senzatela is scheduled to make his first art of the season on Tuesday vs. the A’s.
  • Righty-handed reliever Scott Oberg is doubtful of being able to come off the IL in time for the home opener.
  • TheAthletic.com had a nice breakdown of the opening series, including why rookie Brendan Rodgers didn’t make the team and is now working out at Metro State.

Nuggets

The NBA is back starting this week. The season is scheduled to resume on Thursday, while the Nuggets first game back is Saturday vs. the Miami Heat (11 a.m., Altitude, 950 AM).

Denver plays its final scrimmage tonight against Orlando (5 p.m., Altitude) before the eight-game seeding games begin.

  • On Saturday the Nuggets lost to the Pelicans 119-104 in a scrimmage, but it’s extremely hard to judge where the team is right now since in that game they were without: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap.
    My thoughts: Chances are, with there not being any home-court advantage in the bubble, the Nuggets, along with most teams, will be more focused on getting ready for the playoffs than simply winning games during the seeding round.
    Even before the break head coach Michael Malone seemed to be constantly struggling with figuring out a rotation and getting everyone enough minutes. That’s not going to change going forward, especially with Bol Bol playing well right now.
    The goal needs to be figuring out an eight- or nine-man rotation that Malone can trust when the playoffs start.
  • The Denver Post talked with Bol’s trainer and he said Bol’s basketball IQ is what sets him apart.

Avalanche

The Avs announced their 31-player roster, as did all remaining NHL teams on Sunday. If there was any surprise for Colorado it was that forward Vladislav Kamenev did not make the squad. Kamenev had played a career-most 38 games this season.

Colorado did keep a trio of young players, forward Shane Bowers and defensemen Connor Timmins and Bowen Byram.

Colorado’s playoff seeding games begin Sunday, Aug. 2 against the St. Louis Blues.

Broncos

The Denver Post continued its breakdown of the Broncos by position. This weekend the focus was on the offensive line and the team’s receiving corps.

My thoughts: Man, these are two groups that not only could make or break the entire season, but I think could really range anywhere from a major strength to a major weakness.

Along the offensive line Garrett Bolles gets all the attention, but at least he plays just about every week. There’s just no telling what to expect from right tackle Ja’Wuan James this season. And while Denver has done exceptionally well with drafting centers, it still is concerning if Lloyd Cushenberry is the starter in his rookie season, particularly in a season that might not include any preseason games.

As for the receivers, Courtland Sutton has all the makings of a No. 1, but behind him it gets pretty murky.

I think the Broncos got a steal in Jerry Jeudy in the first round, but rookie wideouts oftentimes struggle in their first year, Sutton is a perfect example. Second-round pick K.J. Hamler is in the exact same boat. Maybe both players will be great from the get-go, but it’s much more likely they both have some growing pains this season.

If everything goes right with the two position groups it could allow the offensive to start approaching the levels we saw with Peyton Manning in the shotgun, but just a couple hiccups and they’ll be average under 20 points per game yet again.

Rapids

The Rapids are left searching for answers after a very disappointing MLS is Back Tournament that saw them sent packing after just three games (0-2-1).

CU Buffs

It was announced over the weekend that legendary CU ski coach Richard Rokos will retire following the 2020-21 season. The coming season will be Rokos 31st leading the CU program that has won eight team national titles and 43 individual ones.

Golf

The CoBank Colorado Open wrapped up on Sunday with Mark Anguiano taking home the $100,000 first-place check after shooting a tournament record 29-under par.

Nationally

The Miami Marlins game scheduled for Monday has been postponed as multiple Marlins players have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Rapids lose, Rockies make moves and more

A look at the latest news with the Rapids, Rockies, Broncos, Nuggets, CU men’s basketball and more for Saturday, July 18.

Rapids

Well, at least the Rapids made it exciting in their MLS is Back Tournament match against Sporting Kansas City on Friday night, unfortunately Colorado fell 3-2.

The Rapids took an early 1-0 lead just six minutes in, but in the second half things got a little crazy. Danny Wilson got a red card in the 61st minute and Kansas City tied the score shortly thereafter. Then the Jack Price was sent off just a little while after that. Playing down two men the Rapids allowed another goal to fall behind 2-1.

Colorado wasn’t done yet though, despite playing 9-on-11 Jonathan Lewis netted the equalizer in the 84th minute. It was all for naught though as Sporting added its third goal during stoppage time to pick up the win.

Next up for the Rapids is likely their final game of the tournament on Wednesday against Minnesota United FC.

Rockies

I wrote yesterday about how the Rockies needed to be careful with how they use relievers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee this season. If either reached a certain number of appearances their contracts for 2021 would become player options. Well, the Rockies made sure that wasn’t going to happen as they released both pitchers on Friday.

Colorado signed Shaw and McGee to matching 3-year, $27 million deals after the 2017 season. The Rockies will have to pay both players 2020 salaries, as well as their $2 million buyouts for next year.

My thoughts: It can be hard to predict how relievers will fare from year to year, which made the signings so questionable at the time. Obviously, in hindsight, they were in fact pretty terrible signings by general manager Jeff Bridich, but at least they finally decided enough is enough.

I wonder if Colorado would have been willing to do the same if this was a regular year and they were on the hook for the entire $18 million for both players. Because remember, with the shortened season the players salaries are equally reduced.

  • In other news, the Rockies announced right-hander Daniel Bard will make the team as well as outfielder Matt Kemp and utilityman Chris Owings. Bard hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in seven years.
  • In Friday’s scrimmage Charlie Blackmon looked sharp. He singled in his first at-bat and then added a home run to right off Antonio Senzetela.
  • The Athletic broke down all the Friday news as well.

Nuggets

This should be an exciting time for Nuggets fan, unfortunately the question of who’s available to play when the NBA restarts at the end of this month makes it much less so.

Earlier this week Troy Daniel estimated there were 8-to-10 players in Orlando, but no one has officially said who all is missing. The Denver Post has a list of all the players confirmed to be down there: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, Noah Vonleh, Tyler Cook, Mason Plumle, Jerami Grant, Daniels and Bol Bol.

My thoughts: This just feels like such a Nuggets thing to have happen. For a team that’s never moved up in the NBA Lottery, watched stars leave as free agents and suffered its fair share of career ending injuries to its stars, nothing really surprises me.

It’s going to be a crazy postseason, and as much as I think one of the L.A. teams will come out of the West, the Nuggets still would have a chance if they were firing on all cylinders. But if they’re short-handed just getting out of the first round will be an accomplishment.

Broncos

The Athletic breaks down what’s next for the Broncos and Justin Simmons, after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract this week.

CU Buffs men’s basketball

Colorado added it’s second commit for the 2021 class in the form of four-star Quincy Allen. Allen is one of the top players in the country, he’s ranked No. 48 overall by 247Sports.

Allen is a 6-foot-7 forward and reportedly had offers from at least 16 other schools including Georgetown, Louisville, Syracuse and Michigan.

According to 247Sports rankings the Buffs now have the No. 6 recruiting class in the country for 2021. CU’s other commit for the class is No. 70th ranked Lawson Lovering, also a four-star.

Golf

The Colorado Open at Green Valley Ranch starts next Thursday, July 23 and yesterday it added three big-name players to the field: Jennifer Kupcho, Chris DiMarco and Brandon McManus.

Kupcho is from Westminster and is currently on the LPGA Tour. She won the Colorado Women’s Open earlier this year and will be the second woman to play in the tournament.

DiMarco is a former PGA Tour player, who’s biggest claim to fame is losing to Tiger Woods in the 2005 Masters. That’s the one Tiger chipped in on the 16th hole, before eventually beating DiMarco in a playoff.

And McManus is obviously the Denver Broncos kicker. According to The Denver Post he’s a 2.2 handicap and coming off a 37th-place finish in the American Century Celebrity Tournament last week in Lake Tahoe.

Unfortunately, if you were hoping to go watch the action next week, you won’t be able to. The event is closed to fans due to COVID-19.