Dark Days for Rockies With Blackmon Sidelined

First it was lower back tightness that prompted Charlie Blackmon's removal from Saturday's game against the Braves in extra innings. Then it was right quad tightness that flared up during batting practice, and led to Blackmon being scratched from the lineup on Tuesday night against the Padres.

The Rockies say there is nothing serious, just aches and pains. But when Blackmon isn't in the lineup it is serious. Coming off a 2017 season in which he set an MLB record with 103 RBI out of the lead-off spot, Blackmon has been the most durable center fielder in baseball since he took over the job with the Rockies in 2014, and he and Mike Trout of the Angels have been the most productive center fielders in MLB during that time.

Without Blackmon at the top of the lineup there's no arguing the Rockies are missing a spark.

The absence of Blackmon underscores growing concerns about the inexperienced bench the Rockies have on their roster. Not wanting to use prime outfielder prospects Raimel Tapia and David Dahl in a backup role, the Rockies kept rookies Mike Tauchman, an outfielder, and Ryan McMahon, a first baseman, in addition to versatile Pat Valaika and catcher Tony Wolters. The four of them have combined to hit 0.55 and strikeout 24 times in 55 at-bats.

The Rockies will attempt to avoid being swept by the Padres in Wednesday's series finale. What they can't avoid, however, is losing back-to-back series on the first homestand of the season. After losing two of three to the Braves during the weekend, the Rockies went into Wednesday having lost back-to-back games to the Padres.

The Rockies have had a winning record in eight of their first 25 seasons. They lost back-to-back home series once in seven of those seasons, and twice in the eighth.

It's been a team failure that has the Rockies in their funk. The team has hit .212 in the five games -- and the one victory came by a 3-2 score in 10 innings on Saturday when the Rockies drew three consecutive walks to force in the winning run.