Jon Gray was positively fantastic for the Colorado Rockies on Monday night against the San Diego Padres, at one point retiring 16 consecutive batters and striking out a total of 11, a new career high. The Padres beat the Rockies 2-1 and Gray took the Loss, but it was still a big step forward for the young pitcher in 2016.
After allowing the first four batters to reach — two on broken bat singles, and one on a ground ball double to Matt Kemp — Gray was practicially untouchable.
He finished with 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 11 K. The most notable development was the command and swing-and-miss he had on his curveball which hadn’t been much of a weapon before Monday. His best pitch was again his slider which fooled Jemile Weeks so bad in on at-bat that he flailed and struck out on a pitch that nearly hit his back foot. The fastball sat between 93-96 and he controlled it very well after the first, getting whiffs on all three pitches.
Gray is the first pitcher in MLB this season with multiple double-digit strikeout games in less than 100 pitches. He probably could have gone longer and padded the total but the Rockies needed all the offense they could get.
Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t back up the excellent start despite outhitting the Padres 9-to-6 and drawing three walks. They went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and subjected themselves to a brutally botched double-steal attempt that ended the fifth inning. The final out at third, made by DJ LeMahieu who appeared to make the decision on his own, was made even worse by the fact that Carlos Gonzalez had worked a 3-0 count and was either in line to get a pitch to drive or load the bases for Nolan Arenado who has been on fire of late.
The one run the Rockies did get might have been two, with Gonzalez and Arenado reaching to begin the fourth, but Gerardo Parra hit into a double play which took the potential tying run off the bases ahead of Nick Hundley’s RBI double.
He had a two-hit day, but LeMahieu’s blunder in the fifth seemed to kill all the momentum for the Rockies in this one. It’s a total team offensive failure when you leave that many guys on base, but that was the worst possible way to end a scoring threat with two of the league’s best hitters holding bats in their hands.
This team isn’t going to be stuck with one run when they get nine hits typically and this is really the first time in 2016 they’ve lost this way. These types of games on the road have been common in the past and if it becomes a pattern, the team could fall down the standings quickly. Anytime the Rockies get pitching this good, they need to win.
Game 2 in San Diego tomorrow at 8:10 MST. Eddie Butler gets his first start of the season against Andrew Cashner.