Jason Motte’s Best Outing of Season Comes at Perfect Time

May 25, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jason Motte (30) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jason Motte (30) pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Colorado Rockies needed it most on Monday night, Jason Motte channeled his best 2012 impersonation.

Brought into the organization in the offseason, the hard-throwing veteran right-hander shook off some recent struggles and turned in the best inning of his Colorado career to help the Rockies claim a 7-4 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays at Coors Field.

Motte recorded 42 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, but this year has been a bit of a struggle at times for him. He entered Monday night’s contest with an ERA over 6.00 in July and without a clean appearance (not allowing a runner by hit or walk) since June 21, a stretch of 10 outings.

That didn’t change on Monday as Evan Longoria smacked his second triple of the night to lead off the eighth inning against Motte. Suddenly, with the Rockies holding on to a 5-4 lead, Tampa Bay had the tying runner on third with no outs.

“My approach on every pitch is the exact same and that’s to go out there and execute that pitch, whatever that is,” Motte said. “On 3-2, I threw a cutter to Longoria that was a bad pitch. It wasn’t a good cutter. I didn’t execute that pitch. He hit a triple. After that, it was, ‘OK, who cares?’ I have to worry about the next pitch and go out there and do what I can do to execute that pitch.”

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And that’s exactly what Motte did. He started executing his fastball in a way unseen so far this season.

Former Colorado outfielder Corey Dickerson entered the game as a pinch-hitter and had the chance to exact some revenge after the trade that sent him to Tampa Bay in the offseason. Motte, however, struck him out on three pitches, blowing a 94-mile-per-hour fastball by him.

“We went in a couple of times. We went out. We went up,” Motte said of his ability to locate his fastball against the Rays. “I was able to locate pretty good the one to Dickerson. That’s kind of been my pitch. I have the cutter and changeup but everything else I do is usually off my fastball. If I can be aggressive with that or locate with that, I can use my other pitches off of that.”

Motte was just as aggressive to the next batter, Logan Morrison, freezing him with a 95-mile-per-hour fastball for the second out of the inning.

“Adrenaline is what drives me. I love those situations,” Motte smiled. “Not that I’m going to do that every single time, but I go out there and try to feed off that adrenaline but also calm myself down and use that adrenaline to focus on what I need to do and that’s execute a pitch, whatever pitch that might be and whatever time and count that is.”

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Steven Souza Jr. would meet the exact same fate as Morrison, watching a 95-mile-per-hour fastball whiz past him for a called third strike to end the Tampa Bay threat.

Motte threw 21 pitches on Monday night and 15 went for strikes. After Longoria hit the 3-2 pitch for a triple, Motte threw 10 of his next 13 pitches for strikes.

“The bullpen really stepped up tonight, big time,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “Otto (Adam Ottavino) and Motte got some huge outs for us. That was nice to see. (Motte) threw some really well-located fastballs tonight. I thought he used his fastball well. He threw some cutters but, for the most part, he stuck that fastball on the corners.”

After the game, Motte was still smiling after being able to strand the tying runner at third.

“You have a runner on third with no out in a one-run game. I don’t know the percentages of times that guy scores but I’m sure it’s pretty high.” Motte said. “I was excited to get out of it. It kept us with the lead and that’s what it’s all about.

“You’re trying to get out there and put up zeroes and win the ballgame. The guy got on third but I was able to get out of it so to get the win is what matters.”

Monday marked the first time that Motte had struck out three batters in an appearance with the Rockies. The outing may not have started off the best, but Motte showed his moxie when it mattered most.

“We were able to get it done tonight. That was fun. That’s what we do,” Motte said.

Wait … being in that type of situation is fun?

“Heck yeah, it’s fun. We won,” Motte smiled. “When you’re out there in those situations, I just try to execute my pitches. If the guy would’ve scored, it would’ve stunk pretty bad. But I was out there in the moment. I know the guy is on third but my mind is on executing that pitch. If you’re worrying about something else, that’s when your mind isn’t where it needs to be.”

Next: The Best Quotes from Walt Weiss Before Monday's Game

Jason Motte has made it clear he’s not worried about what has happened in the past this season. He’s focused on the next appearance. If he can replicate what he showed on Monday night, it could be a huge boost for a Rockies team still very much believing they’re in the chase for a postseason spot.