Colorado Rockies: Bud Black on the impact of facing an ace
By Kevin Henry
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Colorado Rockies entered Saturday’s game with a tough task ahead of them, facing Washington Nationals ace and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. The 33-year-old right-hander is already 2-1 this season with an 0.90 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched.
A difficult opponent? Absolutely. An impossible task for the Rockies to overcome? Absolutely not.
In eight career starts against the Rockies, Colorado owns the second-best average against Scherzer, posting a .290 mark as he’€™s gone 1-4 with a 4.76 ERA, including 0-3 with a 5.88 at Coors Field.
But, as Colorado manager Bud Black will tell you, that’€™s history. He’€™s concerned about Saturday, when Scherzer squares off against Colorado’s ace, Jon Gray, in what Black is calling a must-see match-up at sun-splashed Nationals Park.
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Yes, it’€™s a pair of aces facing off … but this is also about a potential milestone for the 26-year-old Gray in his development.
"“€œThis is a marquee matchup for me,” Black told Rox Pile and other media members in the Rockies dugout before Saturday’€™s game. “These types of matchups for Jon, (German) Marquez, our young guys, I think they’re great. It builds character. It gives them aspirations of what they hopefully can become. Whether it’€™s Tyler Anderson or Chad Bettis, those guys like that type of challenge too. I did when I was a young pitcher. When you win that game and when you maybe outpitch that other guy, what a confidence-builder. Jon’€™s capable of that.”"
Did facing the other team’s ace change up Black’€™s preparation when he was pitching during his 15-year Major League career?
"“It didn’€™t,”€ Black said. “€œI think you knew instinctively that every pitch counts. You can tell from early on the type of game you could be in for. The percentages tell you that it’€™s probably going to be low-scoring game when you go up against a guy like Scherzer. You’€™re on the ready but it doesn’€™t really change your thinking. You have to be on point from pitch one.”"
Is there more adrenaline or pressure when you are opposite the other team’s ace?
"“€œI don’€™t think you can play that way,”€ Black said. “When you talk to your players about certain games or series, you can’€™t look at it that way. I’€™ve said this repeatedly and I’€™ve said this to the guys, you have to stay at a high pitch regardless of the game. You can’€™t get more fired up for one game over another. You can’€™t ride that roller coaster, up and down. You can’€™t get high for one but not have to get as high for this one.”"
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Gray has only made one start at Nationals Park, throwing seven innings and allowing a pair of homers as part of the four hits and three earned runs surrendered. With a 1-2 mark and 5.63 ERA to start the 2018 season, Gray will need a good outing to not only right his season but also give his team a solid chance of beating one of the best pitchers in the game today.