Nolan Arenado put an exclamation point on a superior first week in the major leagues with a grand slam homer in the bottom of the 7th inning to push the Colorado Rockies’ lead beyond reach in a 9-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday night at Coors Field in Denver. Troy Tulowitzki went 3 for 3 with 3 RBI and Carlos Gonzalez’ 6th 2013 home run put the Rockies over the top. James Loney went 3 for 4 with an RBI for the Rays.
Jon Garland (3-2, 4.75) picked-up the win, giving-up 3 runs in 5 innings of work, his shortest outing of the season. He threw 93 pitches (61 strikes), and allowed 7 hits, walking one. Garland had one out in the 3rd when he threw 5 consecutive strikes to Matt Joyce, yet found himself behind in the count 3-1. Apparently Ed the Ump is right and that Ford Strike Zone thing is pretty inaccurate. Garland lost Joyce, Evan Longoria singled, the immortal Loney doubled-in Ben Zobrist (on for Joyce in a fielder’s choice), and Kelly Johnson knocked Longoria and Loney in with a single down the left-field line.
Colorado answered in the bottom of the inning. Eric Young Jr, who had singled and scored on a Tulowitzki RBI in the 1st, singled leading-off. Gonzalez drew a 1-out walk, and then it was Tulowitzki again, this time delivering a 2-run double that tied the game 3-3. Gonzalez’ homer came leading-off the 5th, and the Rockies were clinging to a one run lead when Rays’ starter David Price (1-3, 5.24) rolled-out his Alex White imitation in the 7th.
Price blew-through EYJ and Josh Rutledge, then with 2 out Gonzalez singled to center and Tulowitzki followed with a deep ground-single right of 3rd-base that Longoria threw wildly to 1st, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd. Michael Cuddyer legged-out a single (that was originally called an error) to short, scoring Gonzalez, and Price, weary of all the action behind him, walked Wilin Rosario. The rookie Arenado, twice denied extra bases and RBIs on over-the-shoulder catches by Tampa Bay center-fielder Desmond Jennings, strode to the plate, took a ball, fouled-off a strike, then drilled a 76 MPH curve ball into the left center-field seats. Tulowitzki scored. Cuddyer scored. Rosario scored. Arenado scored. 9-3 Colorado.
Edgmer Escalona covered the 6th and 7th for Garland with scoreless frames, and Wilton Lopez shut-down the Rays the 8th and 9th, saving the pen from further work after four relievers were used in Friday night’s loss.
Roster moves are on hand for Sunday as Jhoulys Chacin and Todd Helton come-off the Disabled List. Ryan Wheeler, covering for Helton, will likely return to AAA Colorado Springs. The move to activate Chacin (3-0, 1.46), who’ll start against Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb (3-2, 2.55), is more intriguing, owing to Tyler Chatwood’s crisp start against the Dodgers last Monday. Game time is 2:10 pm MDT at Coors Field.