C.J. Cron finally came up clutch. After smacking a two-run double, he also delivered his first homer in a Rockies uniform as icing on top of a frozen cake in a 6-2 win over the Astros (7-9) at a chilly Coors Field on Tuesday night.
With the Rockies (5-12) trailing the Astros 1-0 with two outs in the six and Trevor Story on second and Charlie Blackmon on first, Cron blasted a double to center field, just over the outstretched glove of Myles Straw to put the Rockies ahead 2-1. Dom Nuñez added a solo homer in the seventh for cushion and Cron hit a two-run shot in the eighth for even more, helping Jon Gray, who held Houston to three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings, earn his second win of the season.
Cron leads big-hit night
Through the first five innings, the Rockies only had two hits – a sneaky double by Raimel Tapia, who slid into second when he noticed no one was covering the bag in the fourth, and a Yonathan Daza double to right center in the fifth.
Finally, in the sixth, the breakthrough came. With two outs, Story hit a bloop single and Blackmon reached base when a ball bounced in the dirt and then hit him in the shin. When Cron stepped up to the plate, the Rockies were in the midst of a 9 for 51 with runners in scoring position streak. Cron bumped that number to double digits with a timely double that easily brought Story and Blackmon home. In 43 at-bats leading up to that clutch performance, Cron had only driven in three runs all season. The double was his third of the season.
Nuñez hit his fourth homer of the year in the seventh, but it was Cron who came up with another big play in the eighth. Following a McMahon single and a Blackmon walk, Cron sent a shot to center field to prove that the fountains can still be fired up, even in freezing temperatures at Coors Field (36 degrees to start the game and 30 to end it).
In a game that featured the Rockies coming up with big hits against the opposing bullpen instead of the other way around, Cron led the way, jumping from three RBI to eight in one game. Cron, like the rest of the Rockies offense, has struggled early on and is still only hitting .208/.321/.354. After the game, Cron talked about the importance of sticking with it until the hits come.
“That’s all you really can do. As hitters, when things aren’t going well, we want to change everything and that’s usually not the answer,” Cron said. “So kind of just getting back to basics, swinging the bat hard, swinging the bat with aggression, trying to do some damage, and it finally paid off today.”
Cold doesn’t bother this Gray Wolf
Jon Gray pitched five scoreless innings, including a hitless first three innings. His slider was elusive to the Astros, as he stuck out six and he produced 11 ground-ball outs in 6 2/3 innings. Michael Brantley got both of the hits against Gray and came around to score in the sixth when Carlos Correa hit an RBI double down the right-field line. This game matched Gray’s longest appearance of the season with 6 2/3, but is the most of the season with 104 pitches. Gray is doing great in his 18 1/3 innings over three starts at Coors Field this year, totaling 18 strikeouts and only giving up nine hits.
Garcia keeps Rockies quiet early
Coming into the game, Luis Garcia had only pitched 20 innings over seven games in his big league career, including two starts over 2020 and this season. The 24-year-old pitched like a veteran neither bothered by the Rockies nor the cold weather as he struck out six Rockies in his short sleeves. Even though he walked three Rockies, none of them came back to hurt him. In the first, Tapia was then thrown out stealing as Ryan McMahon struck out. In the fifth, he intentionally walked Dom Nunez, but then Gray struck out. Tapia then walked to lead off the sixth, but then McMahon grounded into a double play. Cron ended Garcia’s night and Garcia finished with two earned runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Bullpen delivers needed solid performance
It’s no secret that bullpen has struggled this season, but they didn’t on Tuesday. Yency Almonte gave up three runs in 2/3 innings on April 15 against the Dodgers, but came back strong Tuesday against the Astros. With Correa on second with two outs, Almonte came in for Gray and only needed one pitch to get Kyle Tucker to fly out. Mychal Givens was solid again, pitching a scoreless eighth and only giving up one hit. Robert Stephenson took over in the ninth, and despite surrendering one run on an Aledmys Diaz double, he got one strikeout and preserved the win.
The Rockies will hope the snow holds off on Wednesday as they are set to play the Astros at 1:10 p.m. in the last of the two-game series at Coors Field. Austin Gomber will get the start for the Rockies and face off against Houston’s José Urquidy.