The Colorado Rockies started things off right in Cincinnati on Monday night, taking the first game of the series with the Reds by a score of 5-1. Jordan Lyles had by far his best start of the season, Trevor Story hit a clutch, go-ahead home run in the eighth inning and Ben Paulsen followed with a 3-run blast of his own to put the Rockies on top for good.
For a while, the game's only run game belonged to the Rockies on Cristhian Adames' RBI groundout in the second inning. He drove in Nolan Arenado who led off the inning with a single.
That score held up until the bottom of the sixth inning when old friend Jordan Pacheco doubled with two outs. Zack Cozart initially stopped at third base on the play, but Gerardo Parra short-hopped Story on the throw in. The ball hit him in the leg and bounced away, allowing Cozart to score.
It was a tough play on both ends. The throw from Parra was poor, but Story had Cristhian Adames backing him up and better communication would've allowed Adames to make the easier play. Nevertheless, the game was knotted up, 1-1.
Lyles was on his A game in this one, going seven strong innings and allowing just one unearned run on four hits. He walked one, struck out four, and induced nine ground ball outs to just one fly ball out. He got through those seven innings in just 76 pitches, but was pulled for a pinch-hitter during a tie game in the eighth inning.
Ryan Raburn, Lyles' pinch-hitter, struck out in the eighth, but it ended up being okay! Trevor Story came up with two outs and nobody on and drove a Ross Ohlendorf fastball way over the center field wall. The home run made him the fastest in Major League history to hit eight home runs and, more importantly, put the Rockies ahead, 2-1. Three batters later, Paulsen hit his first homer of the season to a very similar spot in center field to make it 5-1 and give the Rockies some cushion.
Chad Qualls and Boone Logan closed out the final two innings and combined to allow just one baserunner on a third strike wild pitch. Some nifty (and refreshingly good) managing from Walt Weiss allowed both of them to face mostly same-handed hitters and it paid dividends.
A combination of strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and good managing typically leads to a lot of wins and it's something Rockies fans have been seeing a lot of on this road trip, though it's worth mentioning that the Rockies have consistently been one of the league's best teams in April over the past several years. Their ability to carry these kinds of performances over to the rest of the season will be the real barometer of how successful this team ultimately becomes.
The win moves the Rockies to 8-5 on the young season (that's tied for first place!) and guarantees them at least a split of their 6-game road trip through the National League central. Tomorrow night, Jorge De La Rosa will take the ball against Alfredo Simon of the Reds as the Rockies try to take their third straight road series to start the 2016 season.