Colorado Rockies morning after: Pirates sweep sets stage for big weekend

Jun 30, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

If Hollywood was going to write a movie script for the upcoming four-game home series with St. Louis, then the Colorado Rockies could not have provided a better lead in.

Colorado finished off a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon with a 6-2 victory before a crowd of 20,270 at Coors Field.

After a shaky first inning, Jon Gray settled down to shut down the Pirates over the next five frames as the right-hander improved to 5-6 this season while ending a career-long stretch of having lost four straight decisions.

Gray received plenty of offensive support. Garrett Hampson notched four hits, his third career four-hit contest, while driving in a pair of runs to highlight a 12-hit Rockies attack. In addition, C.J. Cron blasted his 11th home run of the season and plated another run with a sacrifice fly.

The sweep was the Rox fifth of the season, all coming at 20th and Blake where Colorado (34-47) is now 28-15 this season, including a Major League-best 15-4 mark  since May 21.

To say the Colorado Rockies were dominant against the Pirates (29-50) would be an understatement.

Colorado erupted for 32 hits and 16 runs in the trio of games while Rox pitching allowed Pittsburgh to score in just one of 27 innings (the first inning of Wednesday’s series finale). Highlighting the Rockies’ pitching performances was the masterful one-hit, complete-game shutout tossed by Germán Márquez on Tuesday night in which the right-hander did not allow a hit through eight innings.

With the team playing extremely well at Coors Field (and better on the road than their 6-31 record might indicate), there is no better time for a long-anticipated reunion to take place.

Bring on Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals to Coors Field!

Ever since the trade of Arenado to St. Louis was announced in February, Rockies fans had circled on their calendars the dates of July 1-4 when the Cardinals were to come to the Mile High City.

The time is here. The wait is over.

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St. Louis (40-41) completed a three-game sweep at home against Arizona on Wednesday and comes to Denver to embark on a 10-game road trip.

While the Cardinals finished June with the sweep of the D-backs, for the most part, the team’s performance during the month was otherwise lackluster. The club batted just .217 in compiling a 10-17 record in June sending the team on a nosedive that dropped St. Louis from near the top of the National League Central standings to fourth place.

For his part, Arenado has hit .267 this season with 16 homers and 52 runs batted in. But the All-Star third baseman, who spent his first eight Major League seasons with the Rockies, has batted just .196 in the last 15 games.

Talk about perfect timing for St. Louis to visit Coors Field.

With its recent solid play at home, can Colorado turn its fortunes around as the second half of the season begins Thursday?

"“What we hope for as a coaching staff, and the players will tell you, (is) we want marked improvement in the total game,” Colorado Manager Bud Black told media, including Rox Pile, during his post-game presser on Wednesday afternoon.“Each individual has something that they are working on, each guy…..Here in the second half (we want) to see marked improvement on some of the things that the guys need to realize they are working on. Hopefully, it shows up in games.”Added Black: “It’s all-encompassing, what we are trying to do.”"

Based on the club’s play of late, Gray also spoke to a possible reversal of fortunes for the team during the final 81 games of the campaign.

"“I think we are definitely playing better than we were,” he said. “I think guys are beginning to understand their roles more. Guys are starting to come out of their shell and play better, too.”“I definitely think the best baseball is in front of us right now,” Gray added. “I am excited to see what kind of damage we can do.”"

Rockies fans would like nothing better than for that damage to start occurring in the next four days when Nolan Arenado and the Cardinals come to town.

Next. This Rockies pitcher isn't getting enough credit for pitching at Coors Field. dark

Antonio Senzatela (2-7, 4.76) gets the starting nod for the Rox in the series opener at 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time) Thursday. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Kyle Freeland, and Márquez round out the scheduled starters for Colorado the remainder of the series.