While the 2020 regular season is just more than one-third complete (yet only 39 games remain in the shortened campaign), it is too early to call Sunday’s Texas Rangers-Colorado Rockies game a “must” win at this juncture.
Nevertheless, the importance of 10-6 victory by the Colorado Rockies in the finale of a three-game series at Coors Field cannot be underestimated.
After opening the season by winning their first five series (something the franchise had never done before), the Rox have lost their last two series — both at home — against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Rangers.
After bolting to an 11-3 start, entering action Sunday, the Rox had lost a season-high three games in a row and had dropped five of their last six to fall to 12-8.
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Couple those numbers with the fact that Colorado, on Monday, begins a stretch of nine of its next 11 games being on the road — with trips to defending World Series runner-up Houston (two games) and National League West foes Los Angeles (three games) and Arizona (four games) — and the magnitude of a win in Sunday’s season finale with Texas becomes apparent.
But credit Jon Gray with his best performance of the season on the mound and a resurgent Rockies offense that had been handcuffed the previous two days by Texas pitching for coming together for a win in the final game of a homestand in which Colorado carded a 2-4 mark.
In his fifth start, Gray picked up his first win of 2020 by going a season-high seven innings while allowing only three hits and three runs (on a pair of home runs) and recording a season-best seven strikeouts.
In his postgame comments, Gray stressed the importance of Sunday’s win.
"“We definitely knew we needed a win today,” the Shawnee, Okla., native, said. “But I am still taking one pitch at a time, one step at a time. It didn’t look like an automatic ‘W’ for the first three innings, but we had a big opening there and scored a lot of runs. ““We kept them at bay,” Gray added. “It was definitely what we needed. I know our offense is feeling a lot better, too. They played awesome today. I think we are headed in the right direction right now.”"
Meanwhile, the Rockies offense — after combining for just 12 hits in its two previous games of the homestand against the Rangers, including only two on Friday night — erupted for 14 hits against six Texas hurlers.
After falling behind early 2-0, Ryan McMahon clubbed a three-run home run — his second of the homestand — to ignite a five-run second inning and Colorado was on the way to snapping its losing skein.
But McMahon wasn’t the only offensive hero. Raimel Tapia continued his torrid hitting of late with three hits to raise his average to .303. Designated hitter Matt Kemp hit safely twice and scored three times.
Kemp, a veteran of 15 Major League campaigns, is no stranger to the ups and downs that occur in a season.
"“We hit a little rough patch but our team is resilient,” he said “We are hungry. We are still having fun. We know we had to grind it out. These past three or four days haven’t gone as planned, but we are still right there. We are still in the milx. We still got a lot of great baseball left to play.”"
In addition, Story, Blackmon, and catcher Drew Butera each had two runs batted in.
Yes. It was only one win. But it came at an opportune time with both the pitching and hitting for Colorado contributing to a needed win to halt a slide and give the club some momentum with a grueling portion of the schedule coming up in the next 10 days.