Another save chance gets away from Estevez

Another save chance gets away from Estevez

DENVER -- The cheers that came from the third-base stands at Coors Field, which were well populated with Rangers fans, almost drowned out the scattered boos and groans of Rockies fans as rookie closer Carlos Estevez trudged from the mound.

But questions about Estevez's future lingered long after the noise had quieted, long after he blew his second straight two-run save opportunity in Monday's 4-3 loss to Texas at Coors Field.

The Rockies have now dropped four of their last five.

Estevez gave up four runs in the ninth inning on Friday in a loss to the Marlins -- who hold the second and final National League Wild Card spot, four games ahead of the Rockies -- and blown saves don't enhance a team's chances.

But when asked if he is re-evaluating the role, manager Walt Weiss said, "I'm not going to talk about roles after a game."

All Estevez, 23, can do is answer for his lack of command. He had issues with his fastball while giving up three runs on two hits and a walk in one-third of an inning. He is capable of 100-mph fastballs, but he had to resort to changeups. They were hit on the ground, but one was Adrian Beltre's single through the mound, another was an Elvis Andrus two-run single that tied the score at 3.

Boone Logan replaced Estevez and yielded Mitch Moreland's go-ahead RBI double in a lefty-on-lefty matchup.

"At this point, in any baseball player's career, you've got to understand that there are ups and downs," said Estevez, who is 11-of-16 on save chances, and 11-of-14 since taking over as closer when Jake McGee sustained an injury to his left knee on June 10. "I think I made my pitches. They got singles, and that's what it is.

"You've just got to keep grinding. Whatever you've been through is gone. That happened today, OK, tomorrow is a new day. You've got to turn the page. That's it."

Whether the new day brings a new closer is anyone's guess. Before his two blown saves, Estevez was 7-for-7 on save chances with a 1.64 ERA and a .180 batting average against over a 12-game span.

Right-hander Adam Ottavino, the closer briefly last season before Tommy John surgery, gave up a walk and a single with one out in the eighth but escaped on an Ian Desmond fielder's-choice grounder and a Jonathan Lucroy strikeout. Ottavino ran his scoreless streak to 26 1/3 innings, dating back to late 2014. He has been solid since missing 14 months, but Thursday and Friday marked his first back-to-back outings since he returned on July 5.

Ottavino fans Lucroy

Ottavino said recently that his arm recovery between outings has been admittedly a work in progress, but he felt good on Monday while throwing his fastball 94-95 mph, with one at 96. His slider is his putaway pitch.

"I think my arm is where it needs to be," Ottavino said. "If I throw any harder than this, it's probably dangerous. I'm happy."

McGee hasn't regained his sharpness. Since returning on June 2, he has a 5.73 ERA in 16 outings, and eight of the last 16 batters he has faced have reached. One option could be righty Scott Oberg, who has a 2.57 ERA in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he was closer.

Hard-throwing righty Miguel Castro seemed destined for important innings in April, but he has struggled with the Rockies and Albuquerque since coming down with inflammation in his right shoulder. Two experienced righties are on the disabled list -- Jason Motte (inflammation in right rotator cuff) and Chad Qualls (colitis).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for 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.