Colorado Rockies Doomed On Missed Chances, Struggling Jon Gray


Sep 21, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A. Burnett (34) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates met at Coors Field in downtown Denver for the first meeting of a four-game series. 

4. Final. 3. 108. 9

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A poor start by prospect Jon Gray and some missed opportunities in the middle of the game with runners on base spelled doom for the Colorado Rockies, as they dropped the first game of their mid-week series 9-3 to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jon Gray struggled almost immediately out of the gate, and the Rox never really got close enough in the game to make it truly interesting, despite several opportunities to do so that they couldn’t create.

Both Starling Marte and Aramis Ramirez slugged homers off Gray in the first, making it 2-0 Pirates very quickly in the game. Marte’s was a bomb; the ball nearly hit the concourse beyond the left field bleachers, traveling an estimated 444 feet.

In the top of the second inning, the Pirates scored another when Jordy Mercer doubled home Francisco Cervelli to make the game 3-0. Another Mercer double in the fourth tacked on the Pirates’ fourth run, and then Gregory Polanco drove Mercer in to make it 5-0 off Gray, who was consistently leaving pitches up in the zone on a night where he wasn’t nearly the sharpest he’s been.

Gray couldn’t make it five full innings, only ending up going 4.2 innings, allowing the five runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out five. He threw 98 pitches (54 strikes) in his ninth start of the season.

Unfortunately, the Rockies could do virtually nothing against Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett, right up until the bottom of the fifth when, down 5-0, Tom Murphy connected on an unlikely three-run home run (in part, thanks to an earlier Pirates’ error) to bring the Rockies within two.

[ Related: Series Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Colorado Rockies ]

Despite all that, though, and despite the Rockies then loading the bases later in the inning after Burnett’s command disappeared, they couldn’t get any more runs. Nolan Arenado struck out with two outs and the bases loaded, killing the Rockies’ best threat and, as it would turn out, their last real opportunity.

Here’s one cool thing from that inning, though: Charlie Blackmon stole second and third bases in the fifth inning, giving him an even 40 steals for 2015, and keeping him in third place in the big leagues in stolen bases.

That was pretty much it for the Rockies on Monday night, though; the bullpen allowed a run in the sixth, and three more in the ninth as the Pirates ended up pulling away. But, the story was the lack of offense for the Rox besides that one solid sequence in the fifth inning off Burnett.

In total, Burnett lasted 5.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and four walks while striking out five Rockies. The Rockies couldn’t ever mount a serious comeback against the Pirates’ pen, and they lost the first game of the series in short order.

Tomorrow, Chris Rusin starts for the Colorado Rockies. He’ll face J.A. Happ and the Pittsburgh Pirates at 6:40 pm MT in the second game of the clubs’ four-game series.

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