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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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Rockies win, tie best start in team history

Rockies

Germán Márquez allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings while striking out nine and Nolan Arenado homered in his second straight game as the Rockies beat the Giants 5-2 on Tuesday night at Coors Field.

With the win Colorado is now 8-2 on the season matching the team’s best start in franchise history. The Rockies also started 2011 8-2, but stumbled to a 73-89 finish.

Despite his final line, manager Bud Black actually didn’t think Márquez was as sharp as he’s been this year, which speaks to how good he has become.

“I don’t think he was as sharp as we’ve seen him. I don’t think the fastball was as crisp, but he made pitches with the fastball, the secondaries were solid. From start to finish, I thought he was in complete control.”

Manger Bud Black talking about starting pitcher Germán Márquez

My thoughts: In a normal season an 8-2 start wouldn’t mean a whole lot, as evidenced by the Rockies in 2011. But this year it means the Rockies are in prime position to make the postseason.

It’s easier said than done, but with only 50 games remaining if Colorado plays .500 ball for the rest of the year they’ll finish 33-27 and almost assuredly qualify for the expanded postseason.

The most encouraging aspect so far has been the outstanding starting pitching from Márquez, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela.

  • The Rockies and Giants are back at it again tonight (6:40 p.m., AT&T Sports Net, 850 AM) with Gray getting the start for Colorado and Logan Webb making the start for San Francisco.
  • Before Tuesday’s game Black told The Denver Post that pitcher Jeff Hoffman could get more opportunities out of the bullpen or even potentially starting if he continues to pitch well.
  • MLB.com released its Top 100 Prospects List and the Rockies had two players on it. Shortstop Brendan Rodgers (31) and outfielder Zac Veen (60).

Nuggets

The Nuggets take on the San Antonio Spurs this afternoon (2 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the team’s third seeding game since the NBA’s return. They’ll be shorthanded once again though as Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) are both out and Jamal Murray (hamstring) is questionable.

With that in mind Denver will need big contributions from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. once again if they’re going to keep the momentum going after Monday’s overtime win against the Thunder.

  • Today’s Nuggets-Spurs game is one of a handful that will be broadcast by NBABet Stream and will follow the game with the betting public in mind.
  • TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind wrote about how the chemistry between Jokic and Porter is getting better and better.

Avalanche

The Avs are back on the ice today against Dallas (4:30 p.m., Altitude, 92.5 FM) in the second of three round-robin games before their playoffs began. Colorado is 0-4 against the Stars this season, but the last time the teams met was Jan. 14.

“They’re obviously a good hockey team (and) I think everyone in our room is aware of the troubles we might have had with them in the past and I think everyone is very determined to try to end them (Wednesday). If you want to talk about the law of averages, I guess we’re due, right?”

Avs defenseman Ian Cole told The Denver Post

Currently the Avs and Vegas Golden Knights are tied in the race for the West’s top seed. If there is a tie after the three round-robin games, then regular-season winning percentage will serve as the tiebreaker. That order was St. Louis (.662), Colorado (.657), Vegas (.606) and Dallas (.594).

Broncos

Linebacker Von Miller spoke about a variety of topics on Tuesday, from how he gave “serious consideration” to opting out this year because of coronavirus concerns to how the death of Kobe Bryant and “The Last Dance” changed him.

Miller tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-April and said by early May he had lost 15 pounds.

“It was hard for me to get my wind back for probably two or three weeks after the virus. Everybody’s symptoms aren’t the same, but for me, I lost my taste and smell. I couldn’t really eat because when you can’t taste or smell food, you lose your appetite. As soon as I got my second negative (test result) back, I started back training and started back running and it was tough no doubt about it. It was tough to just warm up, but I pushed through it and at about 2-3 weeks, I started to feel back to normal and hit it a little harder. I would say about two weeks after the virus, you still have a little wind issues, but that was for me – I have asthma and I felt like that was part of that.”

Von Miller on his battle and return from COVID-19 this offseason

As for dealing with Bryant’s death, Miller talked about reading Bryant’s book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play after and wanting to be able to lead his team in a similar fashion.

“Then ‘The Last Dance’ came out and I watched what Michael Jordan was doing back in his prime and I asked myself, ‘Hey, Michael Jordan was the best that ever played. Was I really making that commitment to the game? Was I really doing the same stuff he did? Like Kobe was one of the best to ever play. Was I doing the things that Kobe was doing? Was I demanding more out of my teammates? Was I demanding more out of myself? And I looked in the mirror and said I wasn’t. I just tried to change that and work as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t take any days off. I didn’t go on any vacations. I didn’t do anything but workout and grind and reinvest all of the time I would usually spend on like endorsements and all of this other stuff. I just reinvested that time back on myself.”

Von Miller talking about his offseason

My thoughts: There’s no question Miller has trained differently this offseason, the only question is how it will translate on the field. And that’s even assuming we have a football season.

It’s been great watching Miller learn and grow from the time the Broncos drafted him up until now, it would be great if he’s able to get back to the top of his game and eventually retire with the Broncos.

CSU Rams

Colorado State president Joyce McConnell is launching an “immediate and objective” investigation into the athletic department after allegations that student-athletes have been intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols.

CSU suspended football activities last week after a coronavirus outbreak. Then yesterday, multiple Rams players told ESPN.com that a position coach told players to hide possible symptoms of COVID-19 because “we can’t afford it” as a team.

According to the ESPN.com story: As the numbers continued to grow, some players felt compelled to minimize their symptoms, according to multiple people within the program. One source said a player who had a severe cough and eventually tested positive continued to work out. Another source said a player with symptoms, who subsequently tested positive, was “scared” to mention them to the coaching and medical staff.

TheColoradoan.com also published a story yesterday detailing the potential covering up of the COVID-19 health threat.

My thoughts: Multiple CSU players have come out to dispute the reports, but the fact that the ESPN.com story specifically says it was a position coach who was discouraging players makes it that much more believable to me.

Not only do I trust the reporting from ESPN and The Coloradoan, but if it was one or two coaches it would make sense that not all the players would have experienced the same thing.

Either way it’s a terrible situation and one that these athletes should not have to be dealing with. On Wednesday morning UConn announced it was canceling its football season due to COVID-19, the first FBS team to do so. At this point I don’t understand why colleges refuse to push the season back until spring at the very least, instead of continuing to put people’s lives at risk.

High school sports

CHSAA announced on Tuesday that the high school football season in Colorado would be pushed back until spring due to coronavirus.

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Rockies, Nuggets and Avs all gearing up for seasons

Rockies

It’s hard to believe that Opening Day is this week … assuming all goes according to plan. The Rockies are scheduled to play two exhibition games Tuesday and Wednesday in Texas against the Rangers, with the opener set for Friday.

Colorado wrapped up it’s 15-day summer camp on Sunday and manager Bud Black was most excited about how good the offense has looked.

My thoughts: I’m definitely excited for the season to be here at last, but my expectations for the Rockies still haven’t changed that much from when Spring Training began months ago. I expect them to hover somewhere around .500, probably finishing a few games under.

In this shortened season though their playoff chances definitely have increased though. All it takes is a hot stretch for a couple of weeks and they’ll be right in it.

Nuggets

The start of the NBA restart is coming up fast as well. Denver has its first scrimmage this Wednesday against the Washington Wizards and while they likely won’t play Gary Harris and Torrey Craig were reportedly en route to Orlando as of Sunday afternoon.

Harris was the final member of the Nuggets regular starting rotation that had yet to enter the NBA bubble. No word yet on the whereabouts of rookie Michael Porter Jr. though.

Avalanche

As the Avs also near their return to action count Ian Cole among those players who believe Colorado has a legitimate shoot to lift the Stanley Cup in a couple months.

Cole, a 10-year veteran, begins growing his playoff beard at the start of the hockey season, in October, if he thinks he’s on a playoff team. And since the playoffs are usually over by now this is already the longest he’s ever had it.

Here’s hoping he still is growing it in late August.

Broncos

The Denver Post began its series previewing the Broncos position groups. First up, the quarterbacks.

My thoughts: I’m cautiously optimistic that Drew Lock will be the long-term answer at quarterback for Denver. I don’t think that means he’s going to be be like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes and win the MVP award in his second year in the league however.

I do love the fact that John Elway and company have surrounded him with talent though. I also am hopeful that even if he struggles some this year, which is highly likely, that he still gets another year or two to learn and grow into the position.

Nationally

ESPN previews the upcoming MLB season with a look at the stars and storylines they’re most excited to see. Not surprisingly no Rockies players made the list.