Spring is for working out the kinks, and it appears a couple of the Rockies' promising young hurlers have quite a few of those to settle over the next couple of weeks.
The Athletics fielded a big-league lineup on Thursday, and it showed. Oakland scored 10 runs off of the Rockies' first three pitchers and coasted to a 10-5 victory at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in front of a large crowd -- both in-person and watching on television.
Tyler Chatwood set the tone for his outing by walking the first two batters he saw. He wasn't helped by his defense, but the walks cost him a couple of runs in the first inning. Things weren't too much better in the next couple of innings, as Chatwood found himself nibbling a bit and allowed another run and a third walk. However, with the exception of Jed Lowrie's line out to end the second, every ball hit into play off of Chatwood was on the ground. That allowed him to escape a couple of jams and finish his night having allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks in three innings. (Three.)
Another guy who is going to play a big part in the Rockies' future struggled under the lights as well. Jon Gray cruised through his first inning, retiring Josh Reddick, Alberto Callaspo and Stephen Vogt on 10 pitches, including a strikeout of Callaspo. However, the A's began sitting dead-red on his fastball in the following inning, resulting in a couple of hard hits and a loud out. Gray started his third inning with a four-pitch walk and proceeded to allow three hits and two runs in that frame. It would have been three runs, but Kyle Parker nailed Chris Gimenez at the plate for the second out of the inning. Dan Winkler was brought on in relief of Gray and recorded the final out of the seventh on a line out.
Sandwiched between Chatwood and Gray was Matt Belisle, who gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in the fourth inning. (Four.) Belisle has had a bit of an ugly spring and now boasts a 10.80 ERA in five innings.
At least the Rockies did some nice things offensively. Wilin Rosario absolutely demolished an offering by A.J. Griffin over the left field wall for his first homer of the spring and Tim Wheeler added a long ball off of Griffin two innings later. Brandon Barnes led the Rockies in hits with three and now owns a .414 batting average in Cactus League play. Heck, even Justin Morneau, who entered the game 0-for-7 this spring, got into the act with a couple of hits.
Overall, it was a bit sobering to see some of these guys -- particularly Gray -- struggle, but again, it's all about working out the kinks.
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The Rockies play two tomorrow, starting off with an afternoon contest with the Giants. Eddie Butler is scheduled to pitch in that one, though it's unclear whether or not he'll start. Franklin Morales will take the hill for the Rox opposite the great Felix Hernandez in the nightcap against the Mariners.