Jon Gray started slow but really locked it down for four of five innings. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Gray wasn’t perfect in his first start in Albuquerque but he was good enough to avoid the loss. Gray had followed De La Rosa’s first rehab start but Gray said it took him out of his normal pregame plan and threw him off. Gray came out a little slow giving up four runs on two hits and walking two more. It didn’t help that Catcher, Ryan Casteel, was slow to deliver on two successful steal attempts for the Tacoma Rainiers. The second steal attempt led to an error by Casteel plating the first run.
Gray had some time to calm down as Brandon Barnes, in his Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Baseball League Jersey, in honor of Negro League Appreciation Day, hits a lead off Homerun followed by a team effort resulting in a bat around and four more runs.
Gray, sporting his Memphis Red Sox Jersey, did settle down only allowing two hits and two walks over the next three innings.
Jon Gray said after his appearance in relief of Jorge De La Rosa that his preparation was off due to coming in mid-game and he would be better prepared for this start. It didn’t appear to matter in the first but after the first inning Gray was much better. He didn’t have total control of the strike zone, going to several three-ball counts but got out of trouble and finished the final four innings very well.
Ken Roberts, in his Kansas City Monarchs Jersey, relieved him and held the lead. Then came Rex Brothers. Before the season Walt Weiss said Brothers had things to work out and we have been seeing it down in Triple A. Brothers, also in a Clowns Jersey, once again came on with hopes of closing down the game but gives up a lead off walk followed by a couple hits resulting in two runs.
Ryan Casteel, also in a Monarchs Jersey, picks the team up offensively and drives in his third run in the bottom of the 8th to make it a one run lead for the Topes. Then they turned it over to Jairo Diaz.
Diaz, in his Chattanooga Choo-Choos Jersey, is a pitcher the Rockies would like to see be a late inning lock down or closer type. “He is a power arm with a power slider,” Glen Allen Hill told us, “That’s what you want in that situation. Tonight, Diaz got off to a slow start but worked a strike out and a double play to end the game and get the save.
So what happened with Gray? “He was worrying about the slider in the first,” Hill told us, which is also what gave him trouble in his relief appearance last week. “He seem to get into the mind set of a power pitcher after the 1st.” Hill added and Gray agreed. “I was trying to be too perfect,” Gray said, “I was trying to put the ball here or there. I just have to trust my stuff.” So what about the sick slider that isn’t working? “I am going to keep working on it.” Gray said, “I have the fast ball and changeup working but if I get that slider working it will take me to a whole new level as a pitcher.” Gray will get a chance at revenge when the Topes travel to Reno for his next start on April 20th. The Aces roughed him up in relief last week.
The Isotopes finish an 8 game homestand tomorrow and head out on the road until April 30th. They play an early game at 12:05pm Mountain Time tomorrow. John Lannan on the hill as the Topes look to continue this 4 game win streak and end the homestand 6-2.