The Colorado Rockies continued their climb out of a 1-10 slump with their third win in as many days behind a selective eye at the plate and solid start from Jon Gray, who continues to seek his midseason form.
A hot start to the year has provided a cushion for the Colorado Rockies, who sit in the middle of the National League West at 16-15 after their 8-7 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The same cushion was given to hurler Jon Gray in the first frame, thanks to a two-run double off the bat of Nolan Arenado – only his eighth hit in his last 68 at-bats – as part of his 1-for-4 day.
In just the first inning, the Rockies forced leftie Robbie Ray to throw 26 pitches as part of a two-walk inning. He finished just four innings and threw a whopping 99 pitches as the visitors drew six walks. Trevor Story led the way with three free passes off Ray.
Charlie Blackmon launched a grand slam on a 2-0 count – the second of his career – in the eighth inning to salt away the win. His average sits at .390 after a 1-for-4 day as he looks to bypass the .400 mark this season. The hit served as the end of a miniscule slump as the outfielder entered the at-bat with only two hits in his last 14 at-bats:
The NL Most Valuable Player race figures to feature Blackmon heavily, as well as division foes Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts, among others.
It’s fair to say the Rockies aren’t too worried.
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The long ball also broke up what was a dreadful day for the Rockies with runners on base. Before Blackmon’s hit, they’d stranded 10 and gone 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Hitting struggles were inconsequential as Gray found a groove which brought about memories of last year’s blips of dominance. He’s pitched through decreased velocity for much of the year, leading to a lack of strikeouts.
Gray sat in the mid-90s with his fastball and struck out five in six innings, showcasing movement on his slider to overcame the woes with his changeup.
The only damage against Gray came in the fourth inning. After a Starling Marte single, David Peralta ripped a single of his own past a diving Brendan Rodgers, enabling Marte to reach third. A sacrifice fly drove in the Arizona outfielder before Gray settled down to limit the damage.
In the sixth frame, the Diamondbacks drew a walk and lined a single to right field before Eduardo Escobar lined out to end the inning.
After his latest start, Gray’s earned run average dropped to 5.45. He still has a mere 21 strikeouts in 36.1 innings, but showed a breakout may be on the horizon.
Before the bow could be placed on the win, Yency Almonte stumbled following a quick seventh inning of work. In the eighth, he allowed a pair of extra-base hits as part of two earned runs allowed. Entering the contest, he’d allowed only five earned runs in 14.1 innings of work.
Tyler Kinley had issues of his own after limiting the damage left behind by Almonte. In the final frame, he allowed a single and walk before being pulled for Jairo Díaz. Both of the inherited runners scored, as well as two more runners due to control issues for the Rockies’ bullpen.
Jeff Hoffman came on for his first career save as he struck out Nick Ahmed looking with the bases loaded to end the game.
With the win, the Rockies are in search of their fourth consecutive win (and a four-game sweep in the desert) Thursday behind the arm of Kyle Freeland.