Backed by Jon Gray’s great start and two home runs, the Colorado Rockies secured back-to-back road wins for the first time this season, and celebrated manager Bud Black’s 2000th career managerial game with a W on Sunday.
Gray Wolf cornered, but bares fangs
Jon Gray loves pitching against the Padres, and Sunday’s start was another example of that. He went six innings and allowed one run on three hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts. Gray’s slider in particular was moving well, registering plenty of swings and misses. (Four of his seven Ks were finished with that pitch.)
The second inning was his most troublesome, and was almost catastrophic. Trent Grisham opened the frame with a double, and Eric Hosmer shot a liner to center, then took second base on a wild pitch to put runners at second and third with no outs. Following a walk to Wil Myers, things looked dire as the bases were loaded with no outs. Rather than implode, however, Gray exhibited mental toughness and coaxed a run-scoring double play from Victor Caratini and forced a groundout from Ryan Weathers. The potentially-dangerous inning instead ended with just one run allowed, and would be the only time the Padres crossed home plate.
Jon Gray's 7 strikeouts pic.twitter.com/Mj1hkSYMgN— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) July 11, 2021
Vets come up big
On a Rockies team where so many of the stars are young players finding their stride, it was a pair of well-traveled bats that led the offensive effort against San Diego. In the fourth inning, Weathers was cruising following a strikeout of Trevor Story and popout of Charlie Blackmon as he stared down Cron at the plate. The big first baseman jumped on a hanging changeup from the rookie pitcher, launching a 404-foot shot over the center field wall to tie the contest at one a piece.
Enjoy the CRON Zone in SD, ball pic.twitter.com/Uc3zNt8CRB— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 11, 2021
In the seventh, Chris Owings doubled the Colorado lead with a solo shot of his own, sending a Craig Stammen knuckle-curve high into the San Diego sky and just getting over the wall. Owings, recently back from injury and struggling mightily since, picked a great time for his first long ball of the season.
Owings, Owings, GONE pic.twitter.com/YDllWY3d5F— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 11, 2021
The Rockies would add a third run in the ninth inning on some sloppy defensive play by the Padres, who committed two errors in that frame.
Chacín walks a tightrope
Jhoulys Chacín, a starter in the Rockies rotation for many years, is now locked in as late-inning reliever. A stark change from his previous tenure in purple, Sunday was an example of the breath-holding intensity that can come from an outing in the late stages of a tight game. After a 1-2-3 seventh inning, pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar led off the eighth with a walk. Tommy Pham then flew out, and Fernando Tatis, Jr. struck out. Profar, taking off from first on the Tatis at-bat, then moved up to third on an errant throw from catcher Elías Díaz. With the hot-hitting Jake Cronenworth up and the tying run at third, Chacín managed to force a fly ball to center to end the threat, and a massive exhale was heard from Rockies fans everywhere.
Luckily, Daniel Bard had a nice and easy ninth inning to secure the win and series victory.
All-Star Break! The Rockies are off while the All-Star festivities commence at Coors Field. When that’s all done, they’ll host Los Angeles on Friday. There is no word yet on who the starters will be at this time.
Have a fun and safe All-Star Break. We hope to see you at Coors Field!