Ladies and gentleman: your NL West division leading Colorado Rockies.
21,363 fans were allowed inside the gates of Coors Field this afternoon, erasing the empty memories of 2020 in a swarm of Opening Day pageantry. It wasn’t the full-blown home opener like fans are typically accustomed to — but neither was the final score against the reigning champs.
Chris Owings steals the show
Three at bats, three hits: Chris Owings looked the exact opposite of a spring non-roster invitee on Opening Day, starting the season with a 2.667 OPS. He began his productive afternoon at the plate with a leadoff triple in the third off Clayton Kershaw, an all-too-familiar foe from Owings’ extensive time with the Diamondbacks. A Garrett Hampson single would score Owings in the third.
Bud Black spoke on Owings after the game: “I’ve seen it firsthand from the other dugout, and now getting to know him, he’s going to be a contributor. He’s going to help us win.”
Owings also drew a walk; his average and on-base percentage stand at a perfect 1.000.
Márquez flirts with disaster, comes out alive
92 pitches: 51 strikes, 39 balls. Germán Márquez allowed six walks to one of the toughest lineups in baseball, but held the Dodgers to a single run in the league’s most hitter-friendly ballpark.
Márquez spoke after the game on his performance: “I felt a little weird, but I feel like I’m getting there.”
Mookie Betts and Corey Seager started the game with consecutive singles, but the threat was quieted with a Justin Turner double play. Márquez would allow two hits in each of his first three innings, but stranded seven baserunners in a four-inning performance. The Dodgers would leave 14 runners on base over all nine innings.
The cold start from Kershaw
On the heels of a Cactus League ERA in the 10’s, Clayton Kershaw set off to lower his career ERA of 1.07 on Opening Day. He was chased in the middle of the sixth inning after allowing five earned runs and 10 hits, and his ninth career Opening Day start was the worst of his career.
He threw a mere 77 pitches (55 strikes), and walked one batter to Márquez’s six.
Cody Bellinger gets ‘robbed’
For the play from Opening Day that you really had to see to believe: Cody Bellinger’s not-home run in the third inning:
Cody Bellinger hit a home run with Justin Turner on base, but Turner thought it was caught for an out and ran back to first base.— ESPN (@espn) April 1, 2021
Bellinger passed Turner on the bases and was ruled out.
The home run counted for one run instead of two. pic.twitter.com/ErecD0td3d
The result was officially scored an RBI single after Bellinger passed Turner on the base paths. “By rule, if the hitter passes the lead runner, then he is considered out. That applies even if the ball ultimately goes over the fence.” Turner was awarded a run scored after a lengthy umpire discussion, and in the least desirable fashion, Raimel Tapia ‘robbed’ Bellinger of his first 2021 home run.
Rockies bullpen gets shaky
Chi Chi González was the first to emerge from the Rockies bullpen, looking to separate himself from the recently-signed Jhoulys Chacín as the long relief/fifth starter candidate. He would pitch the fifth and sixth inning, allowing five hits and three earned runs. He entered as the pitcher of record because Márquez did not pitch the five innings needed to qualify, but his win was in question when the Dodgers tied things up 4-4 in the sixth.
Yency Almonte dealt the seventh inning, holding the bottom of the Dodgers’ order to just one hit in four plate appearances.
Tyler Kinley came on for the eighth with the Rockies leading 8-4, keeping potential setup man Mychal Givens in the bullpen. Kinley would promptly allow a double to Zach McKinstry before collecting a groundout from Betts, but a line drive single by Seager would plate McKinstry — and force a save situation for Daniel Bard to come in and save the day.
Bard made it interesting. Max Muncy ripped a triple to start off the top of the ninth, followed by a 3-2 walk to Chris Taylor and a (perhaps generous) strikeout to Edwin Rios. With runners on the corners, Will Smith was hit by a pitch.
One out. Bases loaded. 8-5 game. Bud Black emerged from the Rockies dugout to discuss with his veteran closer — with Mookie, the MVP hopeful, waiting in the wings.
Matt Beaty would pinch hit in the nine spot for the Dodgers, striking out on three consecutive pitches. Betts would step to the plate for three consecutive strikes, and on Bard’s 24th pitch, a popup to Owings would end the ballgame.
Rockies 8, Dodgers 5.
We don’t know what the rest of the season will hold, but at least for today, Denver is a baseball town.
Reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer will make his regular season debut with the Dodgers on Friday, facing off against 2020 Rockies bWAR leader Antonio Senzatela. Bauer pitched 24 1⁄3 innings in the Cactus League and allowed 11 earned runs. He comes equipped with a full range of breaking pitches — slider, cutter, curveball — and uses them all at a fairly equal clip. His last start at 20th and Blake came on June 7, 2017; he allowed four earned runs in 3 1⁄3 innings.
Senzatela threw 8 2⁄3 innings in spring training after a hamstring injury kept him from pitching in early March. He made three starts against the Dodgers in 2020, allowing nine earned runs in 17 combined innings.