On Tuesday night, Germán Márquez proved he belongs in the All-Star ranks.
Making his debut Midsummer Classic performance, Márquez took the mound on his home field — a place where he’s 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 12 starts with two complete games, 69 strikeouts and 29 walks in 70 2⁄3 innings this season — and pitched just like Rockies fans would expect.
Three up, three down. Thirteen pitches. Four swing and misses. One strikeout.
The Venezuelan-born star who was traded to the Rockies in 2016 just did his thing and the Coors Field crowd loved it.
“When they first called me in, I got a little bit emotional,” Márquez said. “I was excited there just because I really felt like they were behind me. But as I was pitching, I was really just focusing in because I needed to do my job at that point. And I heard [the fans], for sure.”
Entering the game in the fourth inning, the 26-year-old only needed one pitch to get Boston’s Rafael Devers to ground out. Toronto’s Marcus Semien was the next victim, seeing Márquez’s fastest pitch of the inning at 97.6 mph to start the at-bat. He got Semien to chase a slider for strike two before Semien grounded out to Nolan Arenado in a déjà-vu Nolan-being-Nolan treat.
“That was special because he was my teammate for so long,” Márquez said of inducing a grounder to Arenado. “That was special for me because it looked like he was having fun and enjoying the atmosphere out there too.”
But Germán saved the best for last. After missing with his first two four-seam fastballs, including one that accidentally sailed over the head of Kansas City’s Salvador Pérez, Márquez rallied back with three straight sliders that all had the same outcome: a swing and miss.
After the game, he said the atmosphere was similar to his postseason appearance, but that he doesn’t think about those things when he is pitching.
“It wasn’t necessarily overwhelming pressure, but it was just one of those things where you are just hoping things go the way they should go so that the fans can have a good experience,” Márquez said.
As he walked off mound to applause from his hometown crowd, Márquez smiled, clapped into his glove, and tipped hat to the fans. He made it look easy, which was his goal.
“Just to go out there and get those three outs, pretty easy,” Márquez said of his goal. “But just to get that ovation from the fans, it was really special for me.”
Even more special was the fact that Gérman had his family, his wife Dilvanny and his son Damian, in the stands behind the plate in section 130. His family has supported him for years, but had to watch him from afar in Venezuela for most of his career. They were finally able to secure visas in 2020, just in time for a fanless season. At least it was in time to see their husband and dad make his All-Star debut.
“It was special because that’s who I do this for, for them and everyone who’s supported me,” Márquez said. “It was very special for me.”
Before he went out, Rockies manager Bud Black, who was added to the coaching staff by NL manager Dave Roberts, had some advice for his ace that seemed to work.
“He just told me to breathe and that the job was already done, but just to feel at home,” Márquez said.
The inning was all the more impressive because it followed a rough outing for Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes, who gave up two runs in the second and third, including a 468-foot homer to All-Star Game MVP Vlad Guerrero Jr. It also preceded a fifth inning where Miami’s Trevor Rogers gave up two more runs on two hits as the National League found itself down 4-0 after five innings before going on to lose 5-2.
Márquez, Max Scherzer, and Freddy Peralta were the only pitchers National League pitchers to pitch a full inning and not give up a hit, a walk, or a run. Peralta also happened to register three strikeouts.
As the eighth All-Star pitcher selected in Rockies history, Márquez became just the second Rockie to not allow a baserunner in his one inning of work. Brian Fuentes did the same in 2006, pitching an uneventful sixth inning also with one strikeout.
Márquez, obviously the only Rockies’ pitcher to play in an All-Star Game at Coors Field, got a great round of applause when the non-starters were announced before the game. What made the cheers even better was three Dodgers (Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, and Walker Buehler) getting ferocious boos immediately after.
In pregame ceremonies, Márquez took up a different position, moving behind the plate to catch the first pitch from NFL Hall of Famer and former Broncos Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning, even though it bounced before the plate. (Peyton’s clearly spending more time in retirement making commercials than keeping his arm in shape). Manning’s Tennessee buddy and Rockies legend Todd Helton was there too, giving Germán the chance to meet them both for the first time.
“I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous just catching that first pitch from a guy who’s had such a tremendous career,” Márquez said of Manning. “I didn’t know before that, but I was glad to have that moment.”
Márquez also got a nice, even if it was brief, appearance in an MLB commercial on FOX featuring all the players traveling to Denver by road trip, except Márquez, who rode a bike through LoDo.
Another highlight of Germán’s inaugural All-Star experience came during Monday’s Home Run Derby, when he was able to reunite with Arenado to pump up derby participant and teammate Trevor Story.
“It was great to just be next to those guys [Monday], just witnessing a moment like that,” Márquez said. “Those guys pretty much saw me grow up into the person I am today. It was really special for me.”
Nolan is definitely proud of his former teammate.
“I’m happy for Germán. Germán’s a grinder, a really good pitcher. He earned the right to be here,” Arenado said. “He started off a little slow but to see him turn around so quick. It’s been awesome. Germán’s one of my favorite teammates of all time and we get along really well and I’m really happy for him.”
The derby also gave Germán a chance to cheer on fellow Venezuelan star Salvador Pérez.
“I have a ton of respect for Salvador and what he’s done in his career,” Márquez said. “Just with him being from Venezuela, I wanted him to feel that support from the Venezuela guys during the Home Run Derby. He’s a great guy.”
That relationship also adds even more pride to the smile Márquez flashed after striking Pérez out to end his All-Star appearance. Growing up in Venezuela, Márquez said that he always watched the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game each year.
“To finally be here was super great for me and it was exciting just to be a part of this moment,” Márquez said.
He also said he believed he could be an MLB All-Star, but just needed some time to develop his craft.
“The confidence has always been there, but my mechanics weren’t always there,” Márquez said. “The more that I work, the more I feel like I can be here moving forward.”