Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story wasted little time in making his presence known in his first Cactus League appearance this season while one of the veteran relievers for the Rockies had a less than a stellar initial outing on Friday.
Story blasted a three-run home run in his second at-bat of the exhibition season to stake Colorado to an early 3-0 lead but Milwaukee took over from there against the Rox bullpen to post a 12-3 victory before a crowd of 2,060 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
After striking out in his first at-bat this spring, Story—batting second in the order—followed up in the third inning with his homer to right-center field off a changeup following singles by Dom Nunez and Raimel Tapia to open the frame.
“That was huge,” said Story, whose opposite-field home run was one of the team’s four hits in the nine-inning game.
Besides Colorado’s three hits in the third, the club’s only other hit was a two-out double by Colton Welker in the sixth inning.
“I was super-excited about getting back to playing ball,” added Story, who manned his normal shortstop position on defense.
“I usually like to get in there and get in those first few games. But (I) decided to take it slow. I was super excited about that last night and this morning. Got that first one out of the way. It was nice.”
But the Rockies early lead provided by the round-tripper by Story, who exited the contest after the third inning, was short-lived.
Mychal Givens, with six seasons of MLB experience but his first spring training with the Rockies, took over on the mound in the top of the fourth inning and promptly issued a walk and surrendered a single before the Brewers’ Derek Fisher smashed a homer to left field to knot the contest at 3-3.
Givens, seeing his first action of the spring after fashioning a 6.75 earned run average in 10 appearances last season after joining the Rox in a trade with Baltimore, took 21 pitches (15 for strikes) in his one-inning stint.
Carlos Estevez then replaced Givens to begin the fifth inning, and like his fellow right-hander, struggled.
Making his second Cactus League outing this spring, Estevez needed 32 pitches (16 going for strikes) to complete the inning as he permitted five runs on three hits with a pair of walks. All five Milwaukee runs came with two out.
The big blows allowed by Estevez, who compiled a 7.50 ERA in a team-high 26 appearances (24 innings pitched) in 2020, included a two-run double by Orlando Arcia before Zach Green ended the Milwaukee uprising with a three-run home run to left-center.
While Givens and Estevez did not fare well on Friday, the opposite was true for two other returning members of the Rox bullpen—Daniel Bard and Jairo Diaz—both of whom saw their first action of the exhibition season.
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Bard, the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year Award winner and recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award after compiling a career-high six saves in his first MLB action since 2013, finished off a scoreless third inning.
After recording a strikeout and then issuing a one-out walk, he got a 5-4-3 double-play grounder to highlight his 11-pitch, six-strike appearance.
Meanwhile, Diaz, who notched a 7.65 ERA in 24 appearances last season, was just as sharp tossing 17 pitches (11 strikes) while retiring the Brewers in order in the sixth inning. He had one strikeout.
Austin Gomber, who came to Colorado as part of the off-season trade that sent Nolan Arenado to St. Louts, made his second start of the spring and, as he did in his first Cactus League appearance, fired two shutout innings.
The Florida Atlantic University product logged 25 strikes in a 33-pitch performance, allowing just one hit while amassing a pair of strikeouts.
“I felt good, honestly, out there. I felt good,” he said. “I felt my secondary stuff was a little better this time out. Breaking balls, changeups (were) a little bit sharper. Got ahead of a lot of guys. Fastballs for strikes. Didn’t command it the way I really know I can and want to. But it’s early.”
His outing featured a 10-pitch at-bat against the Brewers Billy McKinney in the second inning.
“That is just kind of what you get,” Gomber said of the duel that ended with the left-hander getting McKinney to ground out to third base.
“I have got some history facing Milwaukee in the past,” he said about the former National League Central Division rival from his days with the Cardinals.
“It is kind of what they do. They are always going to grind at-bats. It’s always going to be a tough day when you go against them. It’s kind of what to be expected. He had a great at-bat. We just kept making pitches. We were able to win it.”