In a year where starting pitchers have been dropping like flies, the Rockies were desperate for someone to step up. Tyler Matzek answered that call, and in his big league debut he absolutely shackled the Atlanta Braves. Thanks to his seven plus innings of two run pitching, the Rockies cruised to an easy 8-2 victory. Tonight was a lone island of happiness amongst an ocean of misery--but wow, was it a great night.
How 'bout that kid! Seven plus innings, two runs, five hits, seven strikeouts, and ZERO walks. In four and a half years of professional baseball, Matzek had only four starts without a walk, and none this year at Triple-A Colorado Springs. That is nuts. Matzek's fastball ranged from 93 to 96 mph, and he was spotting it beautifully. His slider had major bite, inducing swings and misses from from batters on both sides of the plate.
In fact, his evening was more impressive than the box score indicated. Through seven innings, he hadn't allowed a run and only two singles. The first single was on a line drive off Justin Morneau's glove, and the second was on a ground ball right to Josh Rutledge, who apparently saw a kitty cat in left field, because that's where he ran off to, neglecting to field the baseball. Matzek opened the eighth inning with something like seventy pitches, but three straight singles had him in a spot of trouble. Walt Weiss, in a wise move, went and retrieved Matzek. Franklin Morales did a good job to put down the inning with only one more run scored.
Weiss had a quick hook for Matzek in the eighth, but perhaps the most important inning was the fifth. He had retired the first 13 straight, but the aforementioned unlucky singles put runners on first and second with one out. Pitching from the stretch, Matzek got tough, striking out Tommy LaStella and popping Andrelton Simmons up, putting down the threat. He showed the composure of a ten year veteran.
But Tyler Matzek wasn't the only story of the evening, because the offense held up their end of the bargain. Against Julio Teheran, the (then) ERA leader in the National League, the Rockies offense scored seven runs (he had shut the Rockies out in Atlanta earlier this year). The Rockies showed serious aggression against the young pitcher, and jumped on him quickly.
In the first inning, Josh Rutledge lined a single and Justin Morneau grounded one through the middle. Subsequently Drew Stubbs doubled and Corey Dickerson tripled, to hang a three spot on Teheran. It was all Rockies pitching needed, but not all they wanted.
Stubbs knocked Tulowitzki home with a sac fly in the third, Tulo pickled himself in the fifth which got Rutledge home, and Dickerson doubled home Stubbs in the sixth to give the Rockies six runs. In the seventh inning Matzek notched his first hit on a grounder the opposite way. He would later score on a Tulowitzki base hit--Stu Cole, in perhaps an ill-advised maneuver, sent Matzek around third, and the pitcher just barely beat the throw home on a picture perfect slide.
Five different Rockies had multiple hits: Tulo, Rutledge, Stubbs, Morneau, and Dickerson. Corey Dickerson's OPS has launched up to 1.043. Those five guys accounted for all of the offense, along with Matzek's single. Charlie Blackmon's slump continued with an 0-5 night.
Not much to complain about tonight. Tyler Matzek staunched the bleeding, in a big way. The Rockies sit at 30-35, still a cool 12 games behind the losing Giants (and four games behind the Dodgers). These new players are going to have to step up if the Rockies want to remain within shouting distance of a wild card spot.
Thanks Tyler. Welcome to Denver. Stick around.
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