(Photo credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Francisco Giants are running out of time -- and opportunities -- to snag one of the three National League wild-card spots.
San Francisco (75-74) came to Colorado having owned the Rockies for more than a year but now is struggling to get something out of the weekend series.
Colorado (56-92) has taken the first three games of the four-game set in Denver, including a sweep of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
The Giants enter play Sunday 2 1/2 games out of the third wild-card NL spot.
They can leave town with a little momentum when left-hander Sean Manaea (5-6, 4.80 ERA) starts Sunday while right-hander Chris Flexen (1-7, 7.22) will take the mound for the Rockies.
Manaea has spent most of the season coming out of the bullpen, where he has made 27 appearances in his 34 games. He started six games early in the season, but between May 11 and Sept. 11 was strictly a reliever.
He stepped back into the rotation on Tuesday when he took the loss against Cleveland but did throw 5 2/3 innings and give up three runs (one earned).
Sunday he will face Colorado for the sixth time in his career and his fifth start. Entering this outing he is 1-2 with a 5.33 ERA. All of his games against the Rockies have been in Colorado, and he will have to avoid the pitfall that hurt the Giants on Saturday -- walks.
San Francisco pitchers walked seven batters in the 9-5 loss in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader and twice walked in runs. It was uncharacteristic for the Giants.
"One of the calling cards for our pitchers all year is we avoid the walk," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It's a big part of our structure and what we preach, and our pitchers have done a great job of executing it all year. You can't walk anybody in this ballpark; it's almost always going to come back to bite you."
Flexen is coming off a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, which was a bounce-back performance for him. In his two starts prior to Tuesday, he allowed 10 runs in eight innings but limited Chicago to three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
He has faced San Francisco just once, on April 3, 2021. Then a member of the Seattle Mariners, he shut down the Giants for five scoreless innings to get the win.
Colorado has taken its role as a spoiler seriously. The Rockies took two of three from the Cubs, who came into Coors Field on a roll, and now they're making life difficult for San Francisco. They're doing the damage with mostly young players, but a veteran is still playing well into his late 30s
Charlie Blackmon, 37, is the longest-tenured player on the Rockies' roster and feels he has more to give after his contract is up this year. He had a triple and a double in the 5-2 win in Saturday's doubleheader nightcap after sitting out the opener.
He has adjusted his workouts over the years to maximize his talents.
"I try to take care of my body. I still feel very strong," Blackmon said. "I don't have the prettiest running form. A lot of what makes me go fast is my strength."
--Field Level Media