The importance of quality pitching from the starting rotation for the Colorado Rockies once again came to light in the Rox three-game home series with Oakland that finished Sunday afternoon.
For the series, the Colorado Rockies offense produced 11 runs, including just three runs in each of the last two games against the A’s.
In the first two contests, Rockies starting pitchers Kyle Freeland and Jon Gray surrendered five earned runs apiece in a combined 7.1 innings (Gray did not make it out of the third inning in his start Saturday) for an earned run average of 12.27.
Not surprisingly, Colorado (24-36) dropped both contests by scores of 9-5 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.
But German Marquez rose to the occasion for the Colorado Rockies in the series finale on Sunday.
Marquez held Oakland (35-26) scoreless for five innings before allowing his only earned run in the sixth as Colorado averted a series sweep for the fifth time this season with a 3-1 victory before a crowd of 23,716 at Coors Field.
The victory ended the Rox homestand with a 4-2 mark, following a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, and improved their home record to 20-14.
Marquez’s four-hit, six-strikeout performance over six innings continued a string of solid outings for the right-hander, who upped his record to 4-5.
He has gone 3-1 in his last four outings (loss was a complete-game 1-0 setback in the first game of a doubleheader on the road with the New York Mets). He has become the fourth pitcher in franchise history — and first since Jhoulys Chacin in 2011 — with four or more consecutive starts of six or more innings pitched while allowing one or fewer earned runs.
Marquez’s ERA over those four starts is 1.08 (26 IP, 3 ER).
On Sunday against the A’s, who are an MLB-best 18-9 on the road this season and lead the American League West, Colorado manager Bud Black cited Marquez for his pinpoint control as Oakland’s string of five straight games with 10 or more hits was halted.
"“German was in and around the strike zone,” Black told media, including Rox Pile, after the game. “They (The A’s) had to really work hard to take borderline pitches, which they did. But he was in the strike zone a lot, I thought, with his breaking ball and his fast ball. Mixed in a couple of changeups to keep them honest.”"
Besides the stellar outing from Marquez on Sunday, here are three other things to note from the series with Oakland:
1. Daniel Bard returning to early-season form in closer role
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Bard picked up his seventh save of the season (a career high) by polishing off Sunday’s victory with two innings of scoreless relief. The two-inning stint matched his season best. He was able to work around a pair of leadoff singles in both the eighth and ninth innings. After converting his first eight save opportunities as a Rockie (all six save chances he had in 2020 then his first two in 2021 —followed by a tumultuous stretch in which he allowed runs in eight of nine relief appearances —Bard has rebounded to not permit an earned run in nine consecutive outings and 11 of his last 12. He has compiled an 0.60 ERA in his last 15 innings.
2. Chuck Nazty continues chase of Larry Walker on hits chart
Charlie Blackmon extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games Sunday and is now just one hit shy of matching the Rockies Hall of Famer for second place on the franchise hit charts. Walker finished with 1,361 hits. With a run on Sunday, Blackmon is also just two runs short of tying Carlos Gonzalez for third in career runs scored for the Rockies. Gonzalez crossed the plate 769 times. In his current hitting streak, Blackmon has stroked the ball at a .333 clip, going 12-for-27 (.444).
3. Raimel Tapia sees doubles streak come to an end
Entering Sunday’s series finale with the A’s, Tapia had swatted a double in four consecutive contests. That streak ended on Sunday although the left fielder did drive in a third-inning run with a single. Tapia finished one game short of joining six other Rockies for the longest doubles streak in franchise history. He finished the six-game homestand 12-for-29 at the plate (.414) with seven runs scored, six doubles, and five RBI.
After dropping the first two games of the series with Oakland before Sunday’s series-ending victory, Colorado will take some momentum as it embarks on a six-game road swing to Miami (three games) and Cincinnati (three games).
"“It’s a good thing heading into this road series,” Ryan McMahon said about the team’s win in the finale with Oakland. “We are going to try to ride that wave and get something going on the road.”"
The Rockies will take to the road with an MLB-worst 4-22 mark away from Coors Field this season.
First up for the Rox, after a day off from action Monday, will be a matchup with the Marlins on Tuesday. Antonio Senzatela (2-5, 4.47) is slated to take the mound for Colorado with first pitch set for 5:10 p.m. (Mountain time).