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Rockies hold on for 8-7 win over D-backs

Jon Gray pitched six innings and allowed just one run, Charlie Blackmon hammered a grand slam to put Colorado ahead 8-1 in the eighth inning and then the Rockies held on for dear life as Arizona’s rally fell just short as Colorado prevailed 8-7 on Wednesday night.

Gray looked the best he has all season as his fastball velocity was more than a mile an hour above his season average.

“To me, that’s the best stuff that Jon has had all year. I saw the velocity tick up. I saw some 95s, a bunch of 96s, I think I might have seen 97, which we haven’t seen this year. So that’s a good sign for Jon.”

Rockies manager Bud Black said of Gray’s performance after the game.

With the win, the third straight one-run victory over Arizona, Colorado (16-15) moves back over .500 on the season.

Harrowing ninth inning

After Sam Hilliard homered and Blackmon added his grand slam later in the eighth inning it appeared the Rockies would cruise to the win. Going to the bottom of the eighth the Diamondbacks trailed 8-1. And after scoring just two runs in the eighth the victory still seemed well in hand.

Tyler Kinley started the ninth for Colorado and allowed a hit and walk before being replaced. Jairo Díaz came in next and did record two outs, but also allowed two hits and a walk. The most dangerous of which was a two-run single by Christian Walker that hit the left-field wall, just a foot or two shy of being a walk-off grand slam for Arizona.

At last Jeff Hoffman came on for the Rockies and struck out Nick Ahmed to end it and pick up his first major league save.

Kemp sits out in protest of racial injustice

Colorado outfielder Matt Kemp joined a number of teams and players who choose not to play on Wednesday night in protest of police shootings of Black people in America and racial injustice as a whole in our country.

Kemp announced his decision via Instagram:

All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were postponed, as were five MLS games, three MLB games and all three WNBA games.

According to The Denver Post Rockies players had conversations in the clubhouse about postponing Wednesday’s game, but never had a formal meeting on the matter.

Extra bases

  • Colorado and Arizona finish off their four-game series this afternoon at 4:10 p.m. (AT&T SportsNet) with lefty Kyle Freeland (2-1, 2.87 ERA) starting for the Rockies against Diamondbacks righty Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25 ERA).
  • Colorado outfielder David Dahl is “getting really close” to returning from the injured list according to Black. Dahl was an All-Star last year, but was in an 0-for-17 slump before going on the IL earlier this month.

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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.