After Kirby Yates struck out Nolan Arenado to clinch the Padres’ come from behind 14-13 win, Rockies broadcaster Drew Goodman solemnly declared, “Well, we just watched it and I still can’t believe it. If you thought Friday was awful, I don’t know how to describe what just transpired in the last twenty minutes.”
The Rockies blew a 13-10 lead by allowing four runs in the top of the ninth inning. Wade Davis came in to close it out and after getting Fernando Tatis Jr. to line out to start things off, he went walk, walk, flyout, single, triple, and then Bud Black pulled him. Then Bud Black decided to intentionally walk the next to batters to load the bases and setup a force at any base. The new reliever, starter Jon Gray, conventionally walked the next batter, Matt Strahm, on six pitches to force in the go-ahead run.
The ninth inning of the final game of this four-game series was not the most unusual thing about the game or the series, however. The entire series made history. That’s why I’m writing about it. It featured the most combined runs in a four games series: 92.
This weekend's series between the @Padres and @Rockies had 92 combined runs, the most for any four-game series in the MODERN era.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) June 16, 2019
The all-time mark is 112 runs between the Cleveland Blues and the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1887.
There were 131 hits over the course of these four games, just two shy of the four-game series record set back in 1929.
Charlie Blackmon has set an all-time record in a four-game or fewer series for hits (15 hits). On that note:
Charlie Blackmon is out of his mind lately. He's been on base in 27 straight games, hitting .393/.439/.844, 13 HR, 35 R, 32 RBI in 132 PA. Imagine if he hadn't been slowed by an IL stint. Since returning: .500/.522/1.045, 6 HR, 14 R, 16 RBI in 46 PA.— Paul Sporer (@sporer) June 16, 2019
The Padres scored six runs in the top of the ninth of Friday night’s game to force extra innings, then wound up scoring five runs in the top of the 12th inning to win 16-12. The Rockies scored 48 runs at home in a four game series and wound up with only a split.
ESPN broke down everything that happened if you want to get a little more granular with the numbers. This one was my “favorite”:
While the 44 runs was the most ever by the Padres in a four-game series, the Rockies’ total of 48 ranked only fourth on their gaudy list.
Now, if you’re wondering just how this all came to be, the only thing you need to understand about baseball is that games played a mile above sea level means the ball doesn’t face as much air resistance, which means it travels farther. Additionally, Major League Baseball has changed the way the balls are made, which has led to an explosion in home runs both at the major league level and Triple-A level where the balls are also used.
The San Diego Padres are a young team at the tail end of their rebuild, meaning their roster is populated with inexperienced but extremely talented young players, particularly their pitchers. The Rockies have a young rotation but an experienced bullpen. Both teams’ starters combined for 44 runs in 32 IP, fewer than half the runs scored in the series, but a rather significant number.
Bad starts leads to more innings pitched by the bullpen leads to more fatigue for the bullpen leads to more runs allowed by the bullpen. But a bullpen pitching a mile above sea level is not the same as one pitching at sea level. They degree of fatigue is even greater and the diminished effectiveness of a tired arm even more diminished than at sea level. Every pitch thrown in Colorado incurs a debt to physics. How does a modern era record explode?
We’re going to see more of these long-standing records fall, not just at Coors but everywhere else. The Rockies and Padres got together and played four games of baseball, but the Rockies and Padres are still playing baseball thinking the old rules still apply. The ball is jumping, the players are smarter, and the slim margins of advantage pitchers have over hitters falls away entirely when fatigue is involved and the atmosphere is thin.