Jon Gray the rapidly-rising-rookie-righty of the Colorado Rockies was dominant tonight against the Atlanta Braves. He’s claiming the ace title of the Denver staff and proving it with outings like this one, which led the way in his club’s 4-3 win.
For much of the night, it appeared as though the Rockies were about to waste another phenomenal outing by Gray. But fresh off a day’s rest, Nolan Arenado finally decided to end his 17-game home run drought when he cranked a two-run dinger to deep center field to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead over the Braves.
It took until the sixth inning for the Rockies to get on the scoreboard, but the fun did not stop after Arenado’s home run. Carlos Gonzalez singled to center field, and then Trevor Story followed suit by launching his own two-run home run 485-feet all the way to the Toyota Tundra hoisted in deep left field. Okay, not actually, but it was an absolute bomb that was somehow marked at only 421-feet. Cmon’ you baseball home-run trackers. No way.
It was a quality inning for the Rockies offense, especially fresh off of two successful pick-off attempts at first base by the Braves pitchers. On the Rockies behalf, it was beyond embarrassing and you could sense the mood in their dugout afterward.
Onto more important matters, the Gray Wolf was absolutely dealing tonight. For the second consecutive start against the Braves, Gray tossed seven solid innings and tallied eight strikeouts. The only differences in this outing compared to his prior start against the Braves was allowing a single run as opposed to none, but he did notch the victory in this outing because the Rockies offense finally decided to give him some support.
In every game Gray starts, he seems to determine if his curveball or slider is working better for him, and then makes it his go-to pitch for the majority of the game. Tonight, it was the slider and it was giving the Braves hitters fits all night long.
On the other side of the bump, Julio Teheran was also dealing as usual for the first four innings. However, luckily for the Rockies, Teheran would exit after the fourth inning due to “right lat tightness.” Teheran kept the Rockies scoreless through seven innings in his last outing, so it was only fitting that the Rockies took the lead shortly after his exit.
As Walt Weiss turned to his bullpen in the eighth inning, it did not take long for things to get ugly. Jason Motte allowed a base hit to the first batter he faced and then gave up a no-doubter two-run home run that landed in the second deck in right field, shrinking the Rockies lead to 4-3.
Weiss immediately pulled Motte after the home run and brought in Boone Logan to preserve the lead. Logan did his job and retired the first three Braves hitters he faced consecutively.
The Rockies could not manage to add on any run support in the bottom half of the eighth, so the “Wild Thing”, Carlos Estevez entered the game with a one-run lead in the ninth.
Estevez had been used quite a bit in the last five days. He had thrown 52 pitches over that span, and things got off to a rough start for him in the ninth. He allowed a double to deep center field to the first batter and walked the second. A sacrifice bunt pushed the runners to the second and third base, but it did record the first out of the inning. Then, Estevez had Erick Aybar down 0-2 but then walked him to load the bases. Thankfully, Estevez managed to get last week’s walk-off hero Chase d’Arnaud to pop up in the infield. It all came down to Jace Peterson, but Estevez got the best of him on a check-swing strikeout, and the Rockies sealed the victory on Estevez’s 29th pitch of the inning.
Player of the Game
Jon Gray. While this easily could have gone to Arenado who homered and tripled in this game, Gray’s stellar performance kept the Rockies in this game at Coors Field and can simply not go by unnoticed.
By the Numbers
8 – For his third straight start in a row, (and four out of the past five) Jon Gray struck out 8 batters