The Rockies took the second game of their two-game set with the Texas Rangers in spectacular fashion on Tuesday, as a good all-around team performance was capped off by an early Play of the Year contender.
Kuhl under pressure
Chad Kuhl did enough to keep the Rockies in the game, even while the offense struggled early. In his first game in purple (or, well, grey), Kuhl tossed 4 1⁄3 innings and allowed just one earned run against two hits while registering five strikeouts. He’ll need to work on his command - his slider looked unwieldy at times, leading to four walks. That could potentially be owed to an apparent blister on Kuhl’s finger, which could be seen bleeding a bit. Missing time this early in the season would be very un-Kuhl for the Rockies.
Even with the occasional command issues, Kuhl looked calm and collected on the mound as he limited hard contact throughout his start. We’ll see if he can build on his solid debut in his next outing.
Offense does just enough
The Rockies’ bats left too many runners on base in Monday’s victory, and it seemed they were on their way to a similar situation in game two. The early innings saw prime scoring opportunities pass them by, as a potential big third inning saw the Rockies score two runs before being silenced by a Brendan Rodgers double play grounder. The very next inning, Garrett Hampson ended a potential rally by hitting into a double play of his own.
Even so, the offense took advantage when it mattered most. In that aforementioned third frame, Hampson lined a one-out single to left field before moving to second base when Connor Joe walked. Charlie Blackmon then brought home the Rockies’ first run on a base hit, and Kris Bryant continued his torrid start to 2022 with a double to knock in his first RBI on his new club.
Those two runs would be all the Rockies’ pitching staff would need, though adding insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings didn’t hurt. While much of Colorado’s offense this series was due to the Rangers’ sub-par defense, Rockies fans were happy to take it. Like the late, great Gilbert Gottfried said, “if someone else is paying for it, food just tastes a lot better.”
Grichuk takes flight like Iago
With the Rockies up 3-1 in the fifth inning, Jhoulys Chacín faced down Corey Seager with two on and two out. Chacín hung a slider up in the zone, and Seager didn’t miss it, as the free-swinging shortstop smashed the ball high into the Texas sky. A crushing three-run, lead-changing home run would surely put the Rockies away for good and give the Rangers the come-from-behind victory.
Then along came Randal Grichuk.
The newly-acquired outfielder made an incredible leaping grab to put the Rangers back on defense. Grichuk’s amazing play seemed to break Texas’ momentum completely - after the catch, the Rangers would have just four baserunners for the rest of the game.
Bullpen continues to lock down
How ‘bout that ‘pen? The Rockies relief corp has impressed in the early parts of the season, and did so again on Tuesday. Following Kuhl’s departure, the trio of Chacín, Carlos Estévez, and Daniel Bard closed out the affair with nary a problem. They combined for 4 2⁄3 innings of work, allowing a total of two hits, one walk, and one hit by pitch and keeping the Rangers off the board.
The Rockies have their first off-day of the season on Wednesday before they come home to host the Cubs on Thursday. Kyle Freeland (0-1, 12.27 ERA) will look to improve upon his so-so Opening Day start, while the Cubs have yet to name a starter at the time of this writing.