The Colorado Rockies faced a legitimate ace with Jon Lester on the mound for the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night. Thankfully for them, their starting pitcher does a pretty nice impression of an ace when he pitches on the road (and yes, that wasn’t a trick and we were talking about Tyler Chatwood).
It was a well-pitched game as could have reasonably been expected, and it came down to impact plays early. DJ LeMahieu delivered the big blow with a three-run home run early, and the Rockies held on for a 4-1 victory.
All of the offense in this game came in the first two innings. Kris Bryant blasted a solo home run in the first inning, allowing at least a few doomed thoughts to creep into the minds of Rockies fans. Thankfully the offense answered early and the pitching settled in to lock down the win.
Charlie Blackmon started things on the offensive end with an RBI double. LeMahieu followed with the deciding blow in this game, hitting his third home run of the season with a three-run blast off of Lester.
Playing against the defending champs and trying to stand up to a test against a fellow contender, the Rockies needed to find a way to make that early lead stand up. Striking early against a pitcher like Lester presents a real opportunity, and on this night the Rockies took advantage.
Their ability to do so started with Chatwood and the way he settled down after that first inning. “Road Tyler Chatwood” might be a thing that’s known outside of Colorado if he keeps this up. The righty settled in for six solid innings, generating 11 groundball outs, striking out four and walking just two batters.
The bullpen did their part to keep things uneventful, and that even included what was technically a set-up appearance from Scott Oberg. One hit against Oberg and a walk issued by Greg Holland in the final inning was all the bullpen would give in terms of hope for the Cubs, and ultimately this one was never in doubt.
At this point you might be wondering if the Rockies defense stepped up. The answer is yes, and yes Nolan Arenado had another amazing play.
Jake McGee held the fort in the 8th inning, and his performance this season merits a quick mention. The lefty now has a 1.46 ERA this season, and as the bullpen has rebounded, his ability to handle high-leverage innings should not be overlooked.
Holland closed things out in the final inning, because what else is new? He made the free pass he issued irrelevant and closed out his 22nd save of the season.
This is a telling series as the season shifts to the heat of summer, and the Rockies acquitted themselves beautifully in the opening game of the series. They will try to keep it up on Friday as German Marquez takes the mound against Mike Montgomery.