The Colorado Rockies won their second road game and won the first game of the month of May by nearly scoring as many runs (14) as they did in their previous four games combined (15).
And it was even better that it came off of Zac Gallen, who is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.
Gallen, 25, entered the game with a career 2.72 ERA. Since he made his debut on June 20, 2019, only six MLB pitchers had a better ERA in that span: Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Jack Flaherty, Clayton Kershaw, and Yu Darvish. He was also coming off a complete-game (in a seven-inning doubleheader) one-hit shutout.
Pregame, Rockies manager Bud Black told the media, including Rox Pile, that the game plan was to layoff on the low pitches, particularly changeups, as Gallen is known to work low in the zone.
That plan worked out as 22 of 31 Gallen’s balls were at the top of the kneecap or below and the Rockies only swung a missed at five pitches at the knees or below, per Statcast.
Here’s what Bud Black had to say about Gallen and Rockies hitters facing Gallen after the 14-6 win.
“He threw some really quality pitches down in the strikezone … and I thought our guys were really stubborn and stingy down there … ” said Black. “I thought we did a pretty good job of laying off the low pitches, the borderline pitches that Gallen seems to feast off of. We drove his pitch count up there in the first inning … so that sort of set the tone for us early.”
Gallen was pulled after just four innings, allowing six hits, four runs, and walking two.
However, the wheels really came off for Arizona when the bullpen came on. Caleb Smith, who started the season in their rotation, allowed two earned runs in two innings and J.B. Bukauskas allowed a single tally in a frame of work. Rookie Matt Peacock, who made his MLB debut against the Rockies in April, was scored on seven times while just retiring one batter.
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As a result, Raimel Tapia, Trevor Story, Ryan McMahon, C.J. Cron, Charlie Blackmon, and Dom Nunez all tallied multiple hits, and Garrett Hampson, Yonathan Daza, and pinch-hitter and defensive replacement Josh Fuentes also had hits as well.
Dom Nunez had the topper, though, as he hit a grand slam to get the Rockies to 14 runs (aka double taco’s to our friends on Twitter).
After the game, he spoke with the media and said that his power numbers have come from two areas: “swing efficiency and barreling balls that I should barrel.”
Entering the game, Nunez had a barrel rate of 15.4 percent, which is nearly 2.5 times the league average of 6.4 percent. That is also the highest number on the Rockies with anybody with more than 40 plate appearances.
Despite hitting eighth in almost every game, he now has an OPS of .923, which leads the Rockies.
For his grand slam (and his double), Nunez was named the player of the game and got “the chain” from his fellow teammates. Like Ryan McMahon, who was the winner of it in their first victory on the road earlier this week, it was the first time Nunez was named it.
The Rockies will have Chi Chi Gonzalez on the mound against Merrill Kelly as the Rockies look to win back-to-back road games for the first time since September 5 and 6 of 2020 against the Dodgers.