Rox out of gate 5-2; Padres on at Coors
The Colorado Rockies did not exactly blow anybody out of the water heading north out of Salt River Fields. None of the big 3 starters has managed a quality start to-date, and up until Sunday a good 50% of the starting offense was sputtering along sporting “I-90” type batting averages. Nevertheless, Colorado navigated its way through the first 7 of 14-straight to start the 2017 MLB campaign with a 5-2 tally, taking 3 of 4 from the Milwaukee Brewers and 2 of 3 from the lordly Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies are also working their way along without the services of Chad Bettis, Ian Desmond, Tom Murphy, and up until Sunday, Chris Rusin.
The season got its launch Monday in Milwaukee with Jon Gray, the Gray Wolf, on the mound for Colorado, opposed by Junior Guerra of the Brewers, and Gray was looking pretty slick, posting-up 4 shutout frames prior to the 5th inning, when something happened. Speculation had it that the adrenaline wore off, or the sore toe started acting-up, or, as Gray himself allowed, he just lost it, but whatever, 5 batters into the inning Gray had squandered the 4-0 lead the Rockies had built upon 3 Mark Reynolds RBIs and a Gerardo Parra single. Scott Oberg bailed Gray out of it with only a 5-4 deficit and the Rockies grabbed the lead back in the 7th on singles by Parra and Tony Wolters sandwiched around a Reynolds double, and runs scored on a Charlie Blackmon forceout and throwing error by Brewers’ catcher Jett Bandy. In the meantime Carlos Estevez, Mike Dunn, and Adam Ottavino followed Oberg to the hill with scoreless frames, Colorado logged an insurance run in the top of the 9th on a Wolters single and Alexi Amarista pinch-double, and newly acquired closer Greg Holland shut down Milwaukee after a lead-off walk to Jonathan Villar.
The Rockies were good for another win Tuesday behind Tyler Anderson, who lasted 5-2/3 but gave-up 5 Brewers runs on 8 hits and a walk. The offense backed Anderson up with a 4 run 3rd sparked by opening Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu singles, who were otherwise quiet most of the season’s opening week. Nolan Arenado knocked-in Blackmon with a double, Trevor Story walked, and Parra plated LeMahieu and Arenado with a double of his own. Colorado got the winning runs in the 5th on a walk to Story, single by Parra, double by Reynolds and another Blackmon single. The ‘pen was once more nails in relief: Estevez got Anderson out of his mess, and Ottavino, Dunn, and Holland once again took an inning each.
Wednesday the Rockies got notice that when you play bad you lose. Tyler Chatwood made it through 6 but gave-up 4 while Wily Peralta and 4 Milwaukee relievers limited Colorado to a single run. But Thursday afternoon rookie Antonio Senzatela got his first MLB start and turned-in 5 scoreless, followed by Estevez, Ottavino, who gave-up a game tying gopher to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Dunn, and Holland, who got his 3rd 2017 save after Arenado homered leading-off the 9th for the winner.
Opening day in LoDo followed, featuring an added story line of intrigue as rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland, the one-time Thomas Jefferson High Spartan, got the start in his home town. Freeland was all the way up to the task, turning in the Rockies’ only Q of the week, a single run on 4 hits over 6 innings as Colorado bested the Dodgers 2-1 behind a 1st-inning Arenado double and 5th inning homer by the backup catcher Dustin Garneau. Estevez, Oberg, and lefty Jake McGee relieved Freeland, save to McGee. The Rockies bagged the series over LA Saturday night in an epic early-season faceoff between Gray and the great left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Gray got through 5-1/3 this time, limiting the Dodgers to a run on 4 hits, and the Colorado offense got to Kershaw for 3 in the 6th behind an Arenado single and back-to-back homers from Reynolds and Parra. Dunn, Ottavino, McGee and Holland backed-up Gray, with Holland earning save no. 4.
By Sunday Parra, who was 11 for 25 and a .440 average for the week, had displaced the slumping LeMahieu in the no. 2 slot in the order, where manager Bud Black could more readily exploit his uncanny base running savvy, but the Rockies turned-in another stink-fest, including their first defensive miscues of the year, and fell to Kenta Maeda and 4 Dodgers relievers 10-6. After 6 innings of relaxation on the bench, the 2016 NL batting champ LeMahieu entered the game on a double-switch in the 7th, singling and tripling in a cause long lost.
Black’s former charges, the San Diego Padres, are on for 3 at Coors Field, tonight and tomorrow at 6:40 followed by a 1:10 pm Business Person’s Special on Wednesday. Chatwood (0-1, 6.00) gets the call for Colorado tonight, and he’s really sick of hearing about his 2016 home-road splits. San Diego, which is off to a 3-4 start, is rolling-out Jarred Cosart (0-0, 27.00), a right-hander. Senzatela and Freeland get their second MLB starts Tuesday and Wednesday. Senzatela gets to oppose the veteran Jared Weaver, and Freeland will take-on Luis Perdomo.
The Rockies early-season crew will be back on the field in the usual order, except Parra and Story are swapped at 5th and 6th respectively. Reynolds hits 7th and Wolters will catch and hit 8th. ROOT will have the TV and KOA’s got radio under sunny skies with temperatures dropping through 60°s and down toward the high 40°s. The wind won’t cause nearly the trouble it did yesterday, but will range from a brisk 11 MPH headed-out toward left-center, down to 4 MPH by night’s end.
The Rockies head off to San Francisco following Wednesday’s contest for 4 with the Giants before finally scoring an off-day April 17. RMH will bring you up-to-speed for the first big 2017 west-coast trip.