Don’t look now but Antonio Senzatela is starting to hit his stride on the mound for the Colorado Rockies.
The right-hander turned in his second pitching gem on the team’s current road trip, allowing just two hits over seven scoreless innings, and this time the Colorado bullpen protected the lead in a 5-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium as Colorado captured the rubber game of a three-game series with the defending World Champions.
“Efficient early, continued that efficiency,” Rockies manager Bud Black told media, including Rox Pile, after the game about Senzatela’s 90-pitch outing, which included 56 pitches for strikes.
"“I thought (he had) good fastball command to both sides of the plate,” Black added about Senzatela’s 11th quality start of 2021, a career-high.“Good slider. The curveball showed up. Threw some changeups to keep them honest. I don’t think he got many outs with the changeups. But he threw enough of them to keep them honest and it helped the fastball. So, I thought well-pitched. I thought overall, he and Dom, pitch selection was outstanding.”"
Colorado Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela has been hitting his stride recently
Antonio Senzatela (3-9) issued only one walk and struck out five in seven innings for the Colorado Rockies before Black turned to his bullpen. Tyler Kinley got a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch with runners on second and third bases to end the eighth inning before Carlos Estevez, who has moved into the closer role for the Rox after struggles by Daniel Bard on this road trip, whiffed a pair of Dodgers in the ninth to seal the win. The shutout was the Rox first at Dodger Stadium in more than five years (since June 8, 2016).
The victory was only Colorado’s fifth in 16 meetings with Los Angeles (82-49) this season and evened the record for the Rockies (60-70) on their current road swing at 3-3.
Senzatela became only the fourth Rockie in franchise history to throw seven or more shutout innings at Dodger Stadium while permitting two or fewer hits.
He earned his first win on the hill since June 2 (a 6-3 home victory against Texas), ending a string of 10 no-decisions despite having turned in quality performances in his last four starts and seven of his last nine outings.
His last time out on Monday night, Senzatela surrendered just five hits and struck out six in six innings before exiting with a 3-1 lead against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. But the Rockies bullpen faltered and gave up five runs in the final two innings of a 6-4 setback.
He received all the offensive support he needed in the first inning when C.J. Cron swatted a two-out, three-run home run, his 24th of the year off Dodgers starter Matt White (1-2). Cron’s homer scored Brendan Rodgers and Charlie Blackmon, who scored twice. Like Cron, Rodgers and Trevor Story had two hits each. The trio combined for six of Colorado’s 10 hits on the day.
Newcomer Rio Ruiz drove in a run for the Rox with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
There was much to like about the Rox series win at Dodger Stadium. Here are 3 things of note:
1. C.J. Cron is having one tremendous month
Entering action Sunday, the first baseman topped the Majors in runs batted in (30) and slugging percentage (.793) for August. He only added to those numbers Sunday with three more RBIs via his home run and a ninth-inning single in four official at-bats. He now has 10 homers this month, which was tied for third in the Majors entering action Sunday.
In addition, he has reached base safely in 23 consecutive contests, just two shy of his career-best. He now has 33 RBIs for the month (his 30 RBIs entering play Sunday had him tied for the most RBIs by an individual in any month this season). With these numbers, Cron should be a strong candidate for National League Player of the Month honors following his performance during the month.
“He has had a great August,” Black said during his post-game comments Sunday. “You could make a case that he has been our best offensive player all year. He has been that good and that was after a real slow start. I am happy for C.J. He is happy to be a Rockie. He likes this team. He likes everything about this organization. He is playing extremely well. He is playing good baseball and we have talked about his defense, how that has picked up.”
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2. Connor Joe contributes with his glove, not only his bat
While he has been impressive while taking over the leadoff spot for Colorado since Raimel Tapia has been on the Injured List, Connor Joe has shown flashes of nifty glove work while manning left field.
In the bottom of the seventh inning Sunday, with Los Angeles runners on first and second bases and two outs, Joe made a great play on a fly ball in foul territory to record a big out and help preserve the shutout.
The play brought a tip of the cap from Senzatela on what turned out to be his final pitch of the day.
3. Estevez shows promise in the closer role
While it is too early to make a call on just how successful the right-hander will be in his new role as closer, Estevez did pick up a save with a clean inning of relief in the Rox 4-2 victory Friday night against the Dodgers and followed that up with a scoreless frame in the series finale on Sunday. Estevez has been in the closer role for Colorado in previous seasons.
Colorado finishes its nine-game, 10-day road trip with a three-game interleague matchup with Texas. Game 1 of the series is set for 6:05 p.m. (Mountain time) Monday. German Marquez (11-9, 4.02) is scheduled to take the mound for the Rox. Be sure to stay up to date with our site and our Twitter page as Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling will be in Texas for the entire series.