Colorado Rockies: Jon Gray Shows Off His “Power Curve” Pitch

Feb 16, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) throws during a workout at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2017; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) throws during a workout at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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Call it a curve. Call it a power curve. Call it whatever you will, but Jon Gray, quickly becoming the ace of the Colorado Rockies rotation, is feeling very confident with his curveball. That’s bad news for the rest of the National League.

Gray threw two innings in his second Cactus League start against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday afternoon in Scottsdale before a sellout crowd of 11,148. Once again going just two innings, Gray was sharp … except on one pitch.

Gray grooved a pitch to Seattle’s Mike Zunino, who blasted the 95-mile-per-hour fastball over the left-center field wall to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

“It was a fastball in and it just didn’t get over,” Gray said.

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That, however, was Gray’s lone mistake of the day. He threw 30 pitches, 21 for strikes and made quick work of the Mariners in the first inning, including two groundouts and a strikeout of Colorado-killer Jean Segura, now thankfully out of the National League West. The strikeout brought a smile to Gray’s face after the game.

“It was a power curve,” Gray smiled. “Good stuff to see so far with that. In the last year, going out, if I didn’t have my slider like I did today, it would’ve been a completely different story. I’m very happy to be able to get out of that with a changeup and a curveball.

“I’m very excited about the curveball. I feel very confident in it. I can throw it for a strike whenever I need to and, today, I could use it as an out pitch.”

The curve was needed on a day when Gray didn’t have his normally dominant slider in his arsenal.

“It should work every day. I don’t understand,” Gray said of his lack of a slider on Saturday. “I think it’s something I’m doing in my delivery. Maybe in the way I’m throwing it. I just need to get back to thinking fastball with it, I guess. Think fastball with it and let the grip do the work. It backed up a lot on me today, but it was good to see me get out of things today without it.”

“The thing with Jon, the delivery looked good, his arm action and his stuff looked like where it needed to be right now,” Colorado manager Bud Black said after the game. “Overall, it was a good outing for Jon.”

That was a high point in Colorado’s pitching on Saturday. There was, however, a dropoff immediately after Gray’s departure.

Yency Almonte, who took over for Gray to start the third inning, struggled in his second appearance of the spring. He hit the first batter he faced (Tyler O’Neill) in a tough third that saw him give up a double to Leonys Martin and uncork a wild pitch that eluded both Almonte and catcher Tom Murphy, allowing the speedy Martin to score all the way from second to give Seattle a 2-0 advantage.

Almonte did, however, have a redeeming moment in the fourth. After giving up a one-out double to Nelson Cruz and allowing Daniel Vogelbach to follow with a single, the young right-hander struck out Zunino and coaxed Ben Gamel into a comebacker to the mound to end the inning and keep Seattle’s lead from expanding.

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The Bottom Line of the Day

Ian Desmond provided the pop for the Rockies, jacking a two-run homer in the fourth inning to tie the game at 2-2. The teams would trade runs until the top of the ninth when Zach Shank ripped an RBI single past Cristhian Adames to give the Mariners a 4-3 win.

Seattle improved to 6-2 with the victory while Colorado fell to 5-4.