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You shouldn't be worrying about Jon Gray

Yes, the Rockies' top prospect got roughed up last night. No, that doesn't mean very much of anything.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, at least it wasn't his first start, right?

Jon Gray was not good last night. In his fourth Major League start, he failed to get out of the second inning, giving up seven runs in the process. Had this been his first, or even his second start for the Rockies, the fanbase would probably have reached DEFCON 1 levels of hysteria. Had it happened then it wouldn't have meant any more than when it happened last night, or if it had happened in his next start, or in his last start of the season.

Stuff like this happens to all Major League pitchers, and it especially happens to young pitchers. Everyone remembers Jason Jennings's historic first start in 2001. How many people remember his sixth start, when he lasted just an inning and a third and gave up seven runs? Last time I checked, Jennings wound up winning the National League Rookie of the Year award the following season and was an effective starter for four more seasons after that.

What about Ubaldo Jimenez, who is pretty universally regarded as the best pitcher the Rockies ever developed? In his sixth career start, and his fifth of the 2007 season, he was shelled for nine earned runs in two innings of work, after looking far less impressive in his previous starts than Gray did in his.

Less than two months later, Ubaldo was shutting down Arizona on the final day of the regular season before tossing two very impressive postseason starts that resulted in Rockies victories. Things would only get better from there, as we all know what kind of pitcher he turned out to be in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Those two examples were specifically chosen to reassure any Rockies fans who might be too close to the ledge after last night, but I just want to restate that this sort of outing happens all the time to pitchers of every age and stature. Felix Hernandez, who's one of the best in the game and currently having a fine year, has twice this season been shelled worse than Gray was last night. Sometimes you just don't have it, no matter who you are.

Gray's stuff last night wasn't very good, but it wasn't particularly awful either. He lacked both speed and command on his fastball, working primarily in the 93-94 range before pushing it to 95 once he got frustrated in the second inning and topping out at 96. He still managed to induce a good amount of weak contact, but he failed to strike a single batter out. All of his pitches lacked their characteristic movement. His change-up was hittable, and he couldn't throw a strike with his slider. Still, the only Met to really hit Gray hard last night was Yoenis Cespedes, who gave every other Rockies pitcher he faced the same treatment.

Cespedes doubled off Gray with two outs in the first, before Lucas Duda tapped a ground ball that got through the shift and brought in the game's first run. Gray got out of the inning one pitch later, inducing a ground ball from Wilmer Flores. It was another run scored in the first inning against the rookie, but he was efficient and it didn't seem like there was anything to worry about.

Unfortunately, the second inning turned into a horror show, including the unforgivable sin of hitting the opposing pitcher (especially when the opposing pitcher is the jovial and cuddly Bartolo Colon). The Mets went station to station on seeing-eye RBI singles before the man they call Yo got to the plate again and hit a full-count 96 mile-per-hour fastball off the top of the auxiliary scoreboard for a grand slam.

Gray managed to get the next batter, Lucas Duda, to ground out, but only after he crushed a change-up about 400 feet down the right field line that landed foul. After two more singles, Walt Weiss came to get Gray after just an inning and two-thirds and 45 pitches.

Jon was visibly upset with himself as he left the mound and in the dugout afterwards, but I hope he realizes that this performance didn't hurt his team in any meaningful way. Everything he does this year, good or bad, won't make a difference in the fate of the 2015 Rockies. That fate was sealed before he was called up. This is all about getting experience and getting better. Now he's experienced the thrill of shutting down a lineup full of major league hitters, as well as the frustration of being shelled eleven days later by those same players. This experience will only help him as he continues to learn what it's like to pitch at the game's highest level.

When I think about it, his first bad start couldn't have come at a better time. It wasn't too early to shake his confidence in his ability to get the game's best players out, and it didn't come too late in the season to leave a lasting impression either. He still has time to move past this and head into 2016 on a positive note.

The crazy thing about last night is that Gray's start didn't actually doom the Rockies. They tagged Bartolo Colon for seven runs of their own, forcing him to exit the game with two outs in the fourth. The inspiring comeback was led by a three-run Nolan Arenado home run, his 30th of the season. The blast came just three innings after Carlos Gonzalez tied him with his 29th of the season.

Nolan became the first Rockie to hit 30 home runs since 2011, when Troy Tulowitzki hit exactly that many. Both he and CarGo have a reasonable chance, if they can get hot, of being the first Rockie since Todd Helton in 2001 to hit 40 in a season.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Rockies tied the game and actually had a chance to take the lead when Nick Hundley tried to score from third on a Kyle Parker fly ball. Hundley was called out on the field and, even though replay seemed to suggest otherwise, the call was upheld. Then, after 3 1/3 innings of quality work from Christian Bergman, the rest of the Rockies bullpen did their thing.

The quartet of Friedrich, Germen, Kahnle and Betancourt surrendered six runs in four innings, eliminating all hope of the Rockies completing their comeback. The 2015 team's other trademark, bad baserunning, showed up in the first inning as Charlie Blackmon got himself picked off first base before CarGo hit his home run. It's hard to blame Hundley for trying to score in a tie game in the fifth, and he might even have made it, but still. Baserunning. Fix it.

Of course, anyone who isn't a Rockies fan cares very little about any of what I just wrote. From an outsider's perspective, the only meaningful story last night was the performance of Cespedes, who went 5-for-6 with three home runs off three different pitchers. His only out came in the ninth inning on a laser line drive that was snagged by Carlos Gonzalez. If CarGo had missed that, Cespedes could quite possibly have had a triple that would have completed the cycle.

After watching how last night's old-fashioned Coors Field affair treated all of his pitching counterparts, Jon Gray shouldn't be beating himself up too hard this morning. He should learn from his teammate Carlos Gonzalez and direct his frustration at inanimate objects instead.