Denver — Jon Gray got his first MLB hit, scored the go-ahead run, and finally — mercifully — got his very first MLB Win, pitching his best game yet at the dreaded Coors Field.
On a day in which MLB was buzzing with the news that Jose Reyes will only be suspended through the end of May — presenting the Rockies with a few unique challenges between now and then — and with the media at a fever pitch with Reyes’ former club in town, Gray powered through the noise and delivered a gem. The team has been desperate to regain dominance at home and adamant that any Reyes eventuality will not harm clubhouse chemistry, and Friday night was a big step on both counts.
For the second game in a row, Gray out-dueled one of the best pitchers in baseball. Last time it was Johnny Cueto, this time the victim was New York Mets ace Matt Harvey.
With two outs in the second, catcher Kevin Plawecki drove a double into the left-center field gap, scoring two. What hurt the most, though, was the walk issued to Neil Walker and the HBP to Asdrubal Cabrera. If he gets one of those two, you are likely looking at an eight-inning shutout. With Gray immediately retiring Matt Harvey next, the double would have been meaningless if the bases were empty. You simply cannot give away free bases at Coors Field without paying for it.
But he righted the ship immediately, sitting on 97 mph for most of the night with his fastball and backing it up with a deadly wicked slider. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on. It has been since Ubaldo Jimenez that this writer can recall a pitcher moving past the century mark in pitches thrown and finishing strong, ending the inning not with the manager taking the ball from his hand but with a swing and a miss. Gray finished with 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 8 K.
He wasn’t the only rookie playing at a high level, however, as Trevor Story just continues to rake, smacking two doubles and proving exactly why he should have absolutely nothing to fear about a Reyes return. Charlie Blackmon had a three-hit day, bringing his season average over .300 after a slow start.
Carlos Estevez recorded his fourth Hold already and Jake McGee pitched a clean ninth with two strikeouts to improve his Save ratio to 10-to-1.
The Rockies were getting to Matt Harvey a little early but kept doing so with two outs. When Gray lead off the fifth in a tie game with a single (his first hit in MLB) it gave the Rockies a chance to build a rally, and although they didn’t really, when Gray came around on a Story double it turned out that was all the Rockies … pitching …. would need. It’s a whole new era.
Jon Gray isn’t scared of Coors Field anymore.
Game 2 against the Mets will provide another opportunity for a young Rockies pitcher to slay some demons at Coors. Eddie Butler takes on Logan Verrett at 6:10 MST.