Juggling act gets Rockies through hail storm

Juggling act gets Rockies through hail storm

DENVER -- The Rockies entered Tuesday night with aspirations of winning. But by Wednesday's wee hours thanks to a 2-hour, 41-minute hailstorm delay, the goals became finishing the game and having enough players for the finale.

The 14-9 loss ended with catcher Tony Wolters at shortstop, first baseman Mark Reynolds at second and outfielder Ryan Raburn shaking off a day of stomach illness to play first base. It also ended with shortstop Trevor Story on the bench, having aggravated his right middle finger bruise during his fourth at-bat. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu also played an inning even though he intended to rest his left knee contusion.

Three factors pushed the Rockies into their player-usage corner: The plan was to avoid using LeMahieu and Raburn, who was scratched from the regular lineup when the illness hit about five minutes into batting practice; Rockies starter Eddie Butler lasted just 3 1/3 innings as he pitched himself onto the roster bubble; and Carlos Gonzalez's three-run homer in the third and a big seventh inning left the Rockies having to push until the late frames as opposed to simply trying to play for Wednesday.

"You've got to look at the bigger picture in a game like that," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, whose creativity has been tested during a homestand that, with Wednesday's game remaining, has seen teams combine for 102 runs through six games. "You've got to look at the next day. We're still in a position to win a series. You're shorthanded, and you do what you can to stay cope."

Hail storm delays game

The game turned strange when Story sustained the injury grounding out to second in the seventh. It was a four-run inning that saw the Rockies cut the difference to 12-9.

"It's a little bizarre," said Story, who hoped to take Wednesday off and possibly return Friday against the Dodgers. "You never want to have injuries at any time, but that's part of the game. We're confident in the guys we have to fill in."

LeMahieu, who went 0-for-1, said he did not exacerbate the injury. He had to move quickly a couple of times defensively.

"I was ready go back out there," LeMahieu said. "It wasn't anything, just the way the game flowed."

Raburn, after spending much of the evening battling through a bad stomach, tried to talk his way into the game earlier to let LeMahieu rest.

Story's injury ended up costing the Rockies a run in the ninth. Wolters' throw to first that bounced allowed a runner to reach to begin the frame -- although Raburn's unfamiliarity and weakened condition contributed to his not making the play -- and he was charged with a missed-catch error on a throw from pitcher Jason Motte that could have started a double play.

However, Wolters was a middle infielder in the Indians' system before switching to catcher in 2013, and he is an option in such games. Reynolds hadn't played second since 2015 and Raburn hadn't played first since 2014, but tough times call for versatility.

"As miserable as it was, as late as it was, as long as the game was going, you try to enjoy it, have fun with it," Raburn said. "You can't put too much pressure to make great plays. We were trying to get through that game, get it over with, with the guys we had. We've got more than a handful of guys banged up, but keeping our head above water."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.