Guardians hold off Rockies on Steven Kwan’s game-saving catch

Sometimes, you just have to tip your hat to your opponent.

Such was the Rockies’ fate Wednesday night at Coors Field in their 7-5 loss to Cleveland.

Left fielder Steve Kwan saved the game for the Guardians with a sensational diving catch to close out the seventh inning.

The Rockies had cut Cleveland’s lead to 6-5 on Yonathan Daza’s two-out, RBI single to left-center. The Rockies had Brendan Rodgers sitting on third and Daza at first when Jose Iglesias ripped a line drive to left. It looked like a certain extra-base hit, but Kwan turned on his jets, caught up with the ball, and dove, leaving a long skid mark on the warning track. He ran 65 feet to make the catch.

The Guardians’ players went bonkers. 

“It was amazing. That was a big-time play and he won the game,” said Yonathan Daza, the Rockies’ best outfielder. “In that situation, when you are diving, and the ball is going away from you, it’s fun. I mean, if you don’t make the play, nobody is going to say anything to you for going after it.”

Colorado manager Bud Black said: “That was a game-changer. That (would have given) us the lead. He went a long way. Good jump, good speed. Being left-handed probably helped him.”

Cleveland added an insurance run in the ninth off Rockies right-hander Carlos Estevez. Amed Rosario, who finished a double short of the cycle, led off with a triple into the right-field corner and scored on Oscar Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly.

The Rockies had 11 hits but their lack of big hits in big moments continues to be their trademark. They were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Colorado starter Austin Gomber had a rough night, and last year’s “Blake Street Gomber” moniker didn’t fit the left-hander. In fact, it hasn’t fit Gomber all season.

The Guardians beat him up for five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Included in the barrage was a leadoff homer by Rosario in the third. Rosario’s first homer of the season traveled 447 feet to left-center.

Black said Gomber has sometimes failed to make critical pitches in critical moments.

“I guess you could say that,” Gomber said. “Last year I didn’t give up as many runs.”

At Coors Field last season, Gomber was 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA over nine starts. He served up five homers. In six home starts this season, he is 1-4 with a 6.68 ERA with seven homers allowed.

“I don’t think there is anything that you can really put your finger on,” Black said. “His stuff is the same. He (still) has a four-pitch mix.”

To be fair, Colorado’s sloppy defense in Cleveland’s three-run fifth inning adversely affected Gomber’s line. Rosario and Jose Ramirez pulled off a double steal and catcher Elias Diaz threw wildly into left field, allowing Rosario to score and Ramirez to take third.

Then Gomber walked Gonzalez, Owen Miller’s sacrifice fly scored Ramirez and Josh Naylor’s double drove in Gonzalez. Colorado’s 4-2 lead turned into a 5-4 deficit.

Diaz has committed four errors in his last 18 2/3 innings. And the Rockies have committed an error in 12-straight home games, extending the longest streak in franchise history. Colorado’s 52 errors are the most in the majors.

“I haven’t talked to ‘Ellie,’ so whether he lost his grip on that ball I’m not sure,” Black said of Diaz. “We need ‘Ellie’ to get going. Last year, he was one of the best catchers in baseball, especially in the second half. We’ll continue to work with him and support him and get him going.”

Colorado took a 2-1 lead in the second, thanks to some timely hits and a throwing error by Cleveland starter Konner Plikington. Daza led off with a double off the screen in the left-field corner, coming just a few feet shy of hitting his first home run in 265 at-bats. Ryan McMahon’s single moved Daza to third, and then Diaz nubbed a single in front of the mound, where Plikington picked up the ball and threw wildly to first, allowing both Daza and McMahon to score.

The Guardians (31-27) will try to complete the three-game sweep of the Rockies on Thursday afternoon at Coors. The Rockies (27-36) are on pace to finish 69-93.

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