Through not quite four games of the season, the Rockies were still looking for the strength of their team to show up. In a low-scoring game on Thursday that the team needed in order to win their opening series, the heart of the lineup finally came through. Well, at least one of them did.
Nolan Arenado hit a home run in the top of the ninth of a tie game, and the Rockies held on for a 2-1 victory over the Brewers.
The other source of offense was once again veteran Mark Reynolds, who hit a solo home run of his own earlier in the game. The team would love to see the rest of the offense catch up, but for now they will take the boost from Reynolds as they scratched out this series win.
On the pitching side of things, Antonio Senzatela sparkled in his big league debut. He threw five innings of shutout baseball, struck out six and walked three on 93 pitches before handing things over to the bullpen. Senzatela really gave the team a boost in his first start above Double-A and a game where the Rockies badly needed a solid outing.
The young righty then handed things to the bullpen, and they did good work once again. Bud Black gave us notice before the season that he likes to have set roles for guys in the bullpen, and what seems to be his working formula came through once again in the series finale.
The steady work of Carlos Estevez has been as hopeful a development as any thus far, as he worked another clean inning despite issuing a free pass. Adam Ottavino followed in the seventh and had the only hiccup of the day, surrendering a solo home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Mike Dunn and Greg Holland kept up their impressive work in the final two innings to close things out. If they keep this up, we might actually let ourselves believe that this team’s bullpen can be a strength.
Not to be overlooked is the continued stinginess of the Brewers’ pitching staff, as they once again baffled what is supposed to be a stout Rockies’ lineup. Chase Anderson delivered six solid innings with just the one run given up, and the rest of the bullpen held up until the decisive final inning.
All of that good pitching set the stage for Arenado. Leading off the top of the ninth inning, he got on top of Neftali Feliz’s high-and-tight fastball and drove it out to left center field. It was a star moment from a star player, and it swung this series the Rockies’ way.
The Rockies won this series despite that it didn’t necessarily always look the way we thought it would. Their ability to find ways to win ugly games against a bad team can be just as heartening as dominant victories, especially on the road. This felt like a series this team was supposed to win, and despite some bumpy starting pitching and punchless offense, they found a way to do just that.
After gutting out this series win, the team heads home for their opening series at Coors Field this weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers.