Fresh on the heels of Antonio Senzatela’s eight shutout innings, Colorado right-hander Jon Gray silenced the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon. He allowed a single earned run in 6 2⁄3 innings, lowering his early-season ERA to a mere 1.54.
Gray’s final line: 6 2⁄3 IP (W), 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
Arizona finished the game with just five hits to Colorado’s 10. The Rockies have allowed a mere three runs in their last 18 innings, and have now won their first series of 2021.
Arizona starter Merrill Kelly got off to an abysmal start. Colorado started the game with five consecutive hits, jumping to a 3-0 lead after Trevor Story’s RBI double and Charlie Blackmon’s two-RBI single. Colorado’s win expectancy jumped to as high as 83.3 percent before the Diamondbacks even recorded an out in the field. Starting pitcher Jon Gray got in on the offensive fun too, recording a leadoff single in the second.
Colorado would tack on another run with a Story triple to right field. Story’s 2-for-2 start broke his 0-for-14 slump leading into Thursday.
Colorado breaks it open in the sixth
Josh Fuentes opened the bottom of the sixth with an infield single, and Sam Hilliard would join him on the base paths with an ‘everybody safe’ fielders choice. Dom Nuñez would then blast a three-RBI home run into the Colorado bullpen, and the Rockies took a 7-0 lead.
Gray no-hits Arizona into the seventh
Gray carved through 21 batters in his first six innings of work, stranding three walks. Only one runner touched second base in Gray’s first six frames, and the scoreboard showed no Arizona hits when he emerged from the dugout for inning number seven.
The D-Backs opened up the seventh inning with a David Peralta triple to right; the Coors Field faithful gave Gray a lengthy ovation as Arizona’s hit column turned to one. Pavin Smith would drive in Peralta with a single immediately after, and Gray would pitch two more putouts and a walk before being pulled with two outs in the seventh. He received more well-deserved applause before Yency Almonte closed the frame with a groundout.
Superlatives: Gray recorded his 700th career strikeout in the third inning.
#Rockies RHP Jon Gray fans #DBacks RHP Merrill Kelly for his 700th career strikeout. He joins Jorge— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) April 8, 2021
De La Rosa, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis and Pedro Astacio as pitchers with at least that many in purple and black. pic.twitter.com/oAvEbEWW3E
Ninth inning scaries
Carlos Estévez came on for the 9th inning and quickly revealed how tough it can be to pitch in some quiet low-leverage situations. He opened his afternoon with a three-pitch groundout but would promptly allow a double, a home run to right, and back-to-back walks before his day ended after just 1⁄3 of an inning.
Bud Black brought in closer Daniel Bard with the tying run in the on-deck circle (a save situation). Bard threw seven total pitches and capped off the final two hitters—a strikeout and a groundout.
Ballgame. Collect yourself a win, Jon Gray.
Coming up next
The Rockies will fly to San Francisco this evening in preparation for a 2:35 MDT first pitch against the Giants on Friday. Colorado will send lefty Austin Gomber to the mound as he looks to limit his walk total and take command after his last start on Sunday (3 IP, 7 BB). San Francisco will send 14-year veteran Johnny Cueto to the mound; his last start was also on Sunday, where he pitched in Seattle and allowed three earned runs in 5 2⁄3 innings. Cueto also punched out seven Mariner bats, so we’ll await how Colorado regulates their strikeout totals in their first regular season trip out of the Denver elevation.
The Rockies have only used four relief pitchers in the past two days. Thanks to the good work of Gray and Senzatela, the Rockies enter Oracle Park with a relatively well-rested bullpen. We may also see the return of the hot-hitting Chris Owings, depending on the day-to-day status of his right hamstring.