Both rookie starting pitcher Ryan Feltner and the Colorado Rockies offense started like a house of fire against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday afternoon.
While Feltner kept up his early pace until the sixth inning, his team’s offense went silent until late in the game and a two-out, three-run home run from Brewers catcher Victor Caratini proved to be the big blow in Colorado’s 6-4 loss before a crowd of 32,627 at a sweltering Coors Field in a Labor Day matinee contest (the 94-degree, first-pitch temperature matched the highest for any September home game in franchise history).
The Colorado Rockies let an early three-run lead slip away against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Caratini’s ninth homer of the season, off Colorado Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence, was part of a four-run Milwaukee sixth inning that rallied the visitors from an early 3-0 hole to a 6-3 lead entering the home half of the sixth inning.
Colorado (57-79) used hits from Ryan McMahon and Charlie Blackmon, coupled with a fielding miscue from the Brewers (71-63) to plate three runs off Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser (5-9) in its first at bat.
But after Blackmon’s two-run single, which was followed by a walk to Michael Toglia, Houser settled down and retired 16 consecutive Rockies hitters before Blackmon’s one-out single to center field in the sixth inning. Houser’s 16 consecutive outs recorded included Garrett Hampson’s sacrifice fly to cap Colorado’s scoring in the first.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee chipped away against Feltner (2-7) with a pair runs in the fourth inning in the first of a three-game series between the two teams before its four-run outburst in the decisive top of the sixth. Two of the four Brewers runs in the frame (and four runs in the game) were charged to the rookie righthhander.
Despite absorbing the loss, Feltner continued to show improvement as he allowed just five hits while issuing a single walk and recording two hit by pitches (both of Kolten Wong) in 5.1 innings.
Feltner fanned a career-high tying seven batters, including the side in the fifth, in his second straight start. He did not relinquish a home run for the first time in his last seven starts.
Those signs of improvement caught the eye of Colorado Manager Bud Black.
“He’s doing some things that lead us to believe that he’s making progress, which is what we want from a rookie starting pitcher,” Black told media after the game about Feltner’s 92-pitch (56 for strikes) performance in his 14th start this season.
“We are doing some things with him that I wouldn’t say are drastic but are a little different than what he was doing in the minor leagues.
“So, he’s learning on the fly in the big leagues and — for the most part — succeeding,” Black added. “So, it’s a good thing.”
Feltner also noted his recent improvement as he celebrated Monday his one-year anniversary since making his Major League debut on September 5, 2021, against Atlanta at Coors Field.
“(I am) covering all areas of the zone instead of living in one area or two areas but being a little bit more unpredictable,” said Feltner, the first Rockie starting pitcher to skip Triple-A and move directly from Double-A to the Major League level.
“I felt like I had most of my stuff working today. So that helps open some things up.”
C.J. Cron’s 26th homer of the season — Colorado’s fourth hit of five total in the game — with one out in the seventh off Brewers relief pitcher Tyler Rogers made it a 6-4 contest.
The Rox would go on to load the bases in the inning before closer Devin Williams took over on the mound and induced Elias Diaz to bounce out to shortstop to end Colorado’s scoring threat.
Williams would then work around a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Connor Joe in the ninth by getting Brendan Rogers to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to pick up his 10th save.
The two teams will meet at 6:40 p.m. (Mountain time) Tuesday for Game 2 of the series with Chad Kuhl (6-8, 5.19 ERA) starting on the mound against the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff (9-4, 3.54 ERA).