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Colorado Rockies starter German Marquez finishes his 2016 with a flourish

The 21-year-old pitched six strong innings in the Rockies’ season-ending loss to Milwaukee.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

DENVER — The 2016 Colorado Rockies did not end the season as hoped, with a 6-4 loss to Milwaukee Sunday at Coors Field that put their final record for the year of 75-87, but starter German Marquez led a group of Rockies that finished the season with a bang.

Marquez produced the team’s 78th quality start of 2015, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings of work, walking one and striking out seven. It was a big bounce back from his previous start in San Francisco in which he allowed six runs on 12 hits in 4 13 innings.

“I was effective because my fastball command and curve in the dirt were pretty good today,” Marquez said.

A September call-up, Marquez pitched in six games with the Rockies in 2016, making three starts. He allowed 12 runs on 28 hits with six walks and 15 strikeouts in 20 23 innings as a big leaguer.

The two runs Marquez allowed on Sunday both came in the second inning. With a man on and nobody out, Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia got an RBU double when Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon lost a ball in the sun. Arcia would then score later in the inning on a groundout by Milwaukee left fielder Jake Elmore.

If not for the quirk in the baseball rule book that says a ball that is not touched by the fielder cannot be an error, the runs allowed by Marquez likely would have gone as unearned. Nonetheless, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he was pleased with the performance from the 21-year-old, not just today, but all month long.

“He’s done a nice job for us since he came up,” Weiss said. “It was nice to see him make a couple, three starts there at the end. He’s a 21-year-old kid, he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Marquez, who came to the Rockies in the Corey Dickerson trade last winter, likely put himself in the conversation for a spot at the back of the Rockies’ rotation for 2017, along with Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland and Chris Rusin, among others.

Joining Marquez in having a strong finish to the season Sunday was Blackmon, who went 4-for-5 with a walk, a pair of doubles and his 29th home run of the season. Blackmon’s homer was a leadoff blast, his 10th such long ball of the season.

Blackmon finished the season hitting .324/.381/.552 with 29 home runs, 82 RBIs and 111 runs scored, all of which were career highs. He also led the Rockies with a 130 wRC+.

“I played a good bit better than last year and that’s really my goal, to play a little better than the year before,” Blackmon said.

Though he did not get into Sunday’s game, DJ LeMahieu secured the National League batting crown with a .348 average in 2016, the best mark for a Rockies hitter since Todd Helton hit .358 in 2003.

“It’s pretty cool,” LeMahieu said of winning his first batting title. “It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it’s pretty special.

Unsurprisingly, LeMahieu finished with the best offensive season of his career overall, with his .911 OPS in 2016 far surpassing his previous best of .746, set last season.

Last but not least was rookie reliever Matt Carasiti, the only Rockies reliever to not allow a run on Sunday. Carasiti entered in the seventh with a man on and nobody out and recorded a pair of strikeouts in a shutout innings. It was the eighth straight scoreless appearance to close the season for Carasiti, who had allowed 16 earned runs in his first 10 innings at the big league level.

Even with the season-ending loss, the Rockies finished with their best record since 2010, and the young club is already expecting bigger and better things for 2017.