DENVER—After beating the Dodgers 4-2 Saturday night, the Rockies improved to 5-1 on the season. They’re off to about as good of a start as they could have hoped for. The Rockies are in first place (though they’re not alone there, as the Diamondbacks are also 5-1), and they’ve already clinched the series against the Dodgers. It’s early, yes, but the wins count all the same.
But Bud Black and the Rockies aren’t about to rest on their laurels. They know that they’ve been getting wins without the team firing on all cylinders. That’s what good teams do though. That’s what makes them full functioning teams.
Asked about the back-to-back home runs Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra hit off of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw—he didn’t allow back-to-back home runs over the course of the first 6,967 batters he’s faced in his career—Black said that “Mark Reynolds is swinging great. Parra is swining great.” Both statements are true. But Black added more: “When you start the season obviously you’d like to have all eight guys swinging well, but that doesn’t happen. You know at some point during the year we’re going to have other guys swinging well. That’s the nature of this game.”
The Rockies powered their way to a win with two home runs from hot bats, but Black knows and is accounting for the outputs to change both for these two players and the guys who aren’t hitting well. Black continued: “We’ll talk about those guys when we get there. When we take the long view of the season, these two guys have really helped us here in the initial onset of the season.”
Black would rather attribute success to the team rather than any one individual. Reynolds and Parra lifted the team to a win on Saturday, but they can’t always be the ones to do it.
Black’s not ready to celebrate just yet. Through everything he says, he’s showing that he’s keenly aware that the Rockies are having some things go right, but not everything. “We’re getting enough hitting through the course of these games to supplement our pitching, which has been really solid,” Black said.
“Solid” is a pretty good word to describe Jon Gray’s performance yesterday. It wasn’t spectacular, and it wasn’t awful. It was solid. When asked about the decision to remove Gray in the sixth inning with one out, Black stated that it was due to his pitch count as well as his uneven performance. “All night Jon was sort of in and out of grooves,” Black said. He continued to say that one point of improvement is his ball to strike ratio—53 of Gray’s 96 pitches were strikes.
Gray agreed with Black’s assessment. “It wasn’t my best day but I was happy to go out and compete really hard with my teammates behind me. They made a lot of things happen for me.” In particular, the defense and the bullpen helped keep the Rockies in the game. With a runner on first and nobody out, Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story helped turn a pretty 3-6-3 double play to clear the bases. The next batter, Corey Seager, lined a ball to left field, and Parra caught it to end the frame. In the next inning, Parra made a diving catch with two runners on base to end the inning.
The bullpen also continued to be superb. Gray left a runner for Mike Dunn, but he didn’t move past first base. Jake McGee allowed a run in the eighth but that was it. The bullpen propped the entire team up, not just Gray.
Everyone else did make a lot of things happen for Gray. The “pick your teammate up” mentality Black expressed after the game seems to have made its way to the players. “It’s good to see these types of games won by our guys,” Black said. The players would agree, and they might even use those same words.