The Colorado Rockies are not cooling off after coming home from a 7-3 road trip. This club’s offensive terror translated at Coors Field in the first game of a series against the Cardinals. For a majority of this game, pitching was the story line. Heading into the eighth inning the game time was only two hours while Antonio Senzatela‘s pitching performance makes it incredibly difficult to believe he has only been pitching in the majors for two months. Here are three things to take away from a game where the Rockies played an efficient and complete game.
- Charlie Blackmon is somehow even better than his amazing 2016
Blackmon is leading the majors with 45 RBIs in the leadoff spot. As if that didn’t seem impressive enough, the center-fielder was a double shy of the cycle. He was so incredibly close to accomplishing the feat after the Rockies batted through the order in the eighth. Chuck Nazty hit what looked like a sure double and he took a big round off first. The cycle wasn’t meant to be but he did reach base five times.
One of the best things about Blackmon is his playfully quirky but candid interviews. When asked if he was looking to stretch his last hit into a double to complete the cycle, he didn’t hesitate.
"“Yeah. I knew what the situation was. When I hit it, I was thinking double the whole way. But you have to have some respect for the game,” Blackmon said. “That to me is not a situation where you try and stretch something into a double just for the sake of getting a double. This game is hard and you have to have a lot of respect for it. Respect the game. Respect your opponents.”"
Raking and respectful. You stay classy Charlie Blackmon.
2. The defense should start getting as much credit as the offense
A big reason Senzatela was able to be effective was the great plays by his defenders. While the rookie was able to induce four double plays (he is the seventh pitcher in franchise history to accomplish this. The last was Jorge De La Rosa in 2014) the defense made some truly incredible plays.
For instance, Nolan Arenado would probably fit in better at Hogwarts with all the magic he’s able to pull off with the leather.
Then there was Ian Desmond probably having to replace his shoestrings after this catch.
"“That’s what happens in well pitched games. There is always a correlation between that and good defense,” Bud Black said. “That helped Antonio keep the pitch count down. I think both of those, Ian’s play and Nolan’s play were both leading off the innings so that’s a whole different ball game if they get on and he has to pitch in the stretch. The whole world changes.”"
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3. Improved fastball command led to an effective slider which led to the best start of Antonio Senzatela’s career.
Bud Black commented after this game, that Senzatela did not have pin-point control of his fastball in prior starts. That issue was non-existent against the Cardinals. Senzatela said he focused on his fastball accuracy in particular in bullpen sessions leading up to this game. It paid off as the righty through a career-high eight shut out innings with five hits and no walks.
Senzatela has matched Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel and Ervin Santana for the most wins in baseball with seven. He downplayed the comparisons but gave credit to his slider which induced all four double plays. Fifteen ground balls came from an effective slider because the fastball was working so well.
The Rockies are in command of all aspects of their game no matter what field they play on. This matchup is a microcosm of how well balanced the Rockies are through two months of the season in every facet of the game.