It was a cold and rainy affair between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies by the bay. And at the end of it all, Colorado became the first team in MLB to win nine games.
Starting pitchers Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Samardzija had oddly similar days — starting off very poorly then really locking in — but it was Senzatela who just barely won the duel, earning his second win and a big series win for Colorado.
Charlie Blackmon started the craziness with his first lead-off home run, and third overall, of 2017. He hit it out to right-center field, which is tough to do in this ballpark when it isn’t raining. DJ LeMahieu followed with a single and Carlos Gonzalez ripped a double to right before Nolan Arenado lasered a two-RBI double to left. Those were RBI seven and eight for Arenado this season.
But the Giants came out attacking, too, jumping on Senzatela’s first-pitch fastballs in the zone. Denard Span smacked a double off the wall in right and Brandon Belt singled up the middle before coming in on a sac fly from Hunter Pence. Brandon Crawford hit a hard grounder that scored Belt and turned into a triple when it died in a puddle in right field. Nick Hundley quickly tied the game right back up with a sac fly, and though Senzatela completed the inning having thrown just 13 pitches, he had squandered the three-run lead.
The Rockies took the lead right back in the second, though. Tony Wolters singled to left, Senzatela executed the sac bunt, Blackmon moved Wolters over to third with a groundball to the right side and LeMahieu came through with a two-out single up the middle after a long at-bat where he covered just about every pitch in Samardzija’s arsenal. And it was 4-3, Rockies. Then the scoring, unlike the rain, just stopped.
Senzatela really settled in, mixing more offspeed pitches in to throw off the Giants timing, at one point retiring 10 batters in a row. That streak was broken up by Joe Panik who singled to lead off the fifth but he was erased from the base paths on a double play immediately.
Brandon Belt got a Senzatela fastball for a double to center with one out in the sixth but Senzatela got help from a pair of brilliant defensive plays from LeMahieu and Wolters to preserve the one-run lead.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 16, 2017
Former Rockie Nick Hundley led off the seventh with a line-drive double, but the Rockies rookie pitcher got a pair of weak groundouts and a popout, again stranding the runner at third base.
Senzatela so far hasn’t had anything that you could call a “normal” start. His first game in Milwaukee was, of course, his MLB debut, his second game his first in front of his home fans, and how was this rain-infused oddity.
After giving up three runs in the first, Senza retired 18 of the last 22 batters he faced. He stayed on to face Conor Gillaspie in the eighth but gave up an opposite-field single before giving way to Mike Dunn.
Senzatela’s final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. He threw 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes. He became just the fifth Rockies pitcher in franchise history to win two of his first three games.
Dunn struck out Span and Belt then gave way to Adam Ottavino who got Pence to fly out to right. And again the Rockies escaped. Dunn has allowed just one hit over six innings of work this season, he’s walked two batters and struck out 10.
Greg Holland got a pop out, a strikeout, and a little help on a diving catch from Carlos Gonzalez for his seventh consecutive save. The bullpen remains a figment of the best of Rockies’ fan’s dreams.
Colorado took their third series of 2017, having lost just their home set against the San Diego Padres. They’ve won both of their road series’ and moved to 9-5 on the year. This was the first time ever, in their history, the Rockies won a four-game series in San Francisco.
While it looked in the opening frame like the Rockies might put up their first real crooked number of the year, it was again their pitching and defense that led to victory against a divisional foe they hope to make a divisional rival.
Winning games and series’ like this is a good start.