The Colorado Rockies got another very solid outing from starter Chad Bettis who has been the best pitcher for the Rockies in 2016.
In a 6-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, Bettis pitched six innings, giving up three runs on nine hits, which looks worse than it felt for most of the afternoon. After surrendering a first inning home run to Brandon Drury, Bettis was on cruise control until a frustrating sixth inning.
He gave up two runs on four singles in the sixth, two of which deflected off the leather of one of his infielders. He battled through and finished the inning, even coming out for the seventh but he was pulled after a leadoff single from Rickie Weeks. Justin Miller replaced Bettis and gave up a single to Phil Gosselin but bounced back with a huge strikeout of Drury.
After purposefully working around the incredibly dangerous Paul Goldschmidt, Miller was removed in favor of Boone Logan who continues to dominate left-handed hitting. He struck out David Peralta looking, lowering his ERA to 2.97 on the season.
Then something amazing happened: Walt Weiss went to Carlos Estevez with the bases loaded and two outs. It would normally have been an obvious move to go right-on-right, but it was a big spot for a rookie who was also taken deep last night. Should he be lined up like that again, the Diamondbacks would take the lead. Estevez did make one mistake pitch during the at-bat but it was at 97 mph which allows the occasional miss at belt-high. After getting into a 2-2 count against Yasmany Tomas, it appeared to be slider time -- catcher Tony Wolters even patted the dirt with his glove -- but Estevez reached back for his fastest pitch of the season, blowing a 98 mph heater right past Tomas, up-and-away in the zone for the third out. And suddenly the D-Backs most promising inning would end with a zero in the run column.
The Rockies' offense was remarkably patient and it paid off in the fourth. As Shelby Miller's pitch count was rising, the Rox worked several long at-bats, starting with a Nolan Arenado AB that ended in an opposite-field single, scoring Carlos Gonzalez who had singled and moved up on a passed ball.
DJ LeMahieu came through with his trademark single to the right of the second baseman, setting the stage for a gorgeous at-bat from Ben Paulsen. Unable to jump on a first pitch curveball and then catch up to the fastball for more than to get a piece, Paulsen quickly found himself down 1-2. But he fouled off the fastball just enough until he finally geared up for it, but Miller came with the change. Paulsen made a mid-pitch adjustmen and despite being out on his front foot, kept his hands back and threw the barrel of the bat toward the outer half of the strike zone, serving a single into center field and putting the Rockies in front.
Paulsen's at-bat visibly frustrated Miller, who made exactly the pitch he wanted to but was still beaten. He got wild to Chad Bettis and committed the sin of walking the opposing pitcher. Then, he clearly couldn't find the zone against Charlie Blackmon, walking in a run and extending the Rockies lead to 3-1. With their starter nearing 80 pitches (79) in the fourth and unable to find the zone with the bases still loaded, Arizona was forced to go to the 'pen early.
Jake Barrett was able to get Trevor Story on strikes looking, but was greeted the next inning by a Gerardo Parra home run. and it was 4-1 Colorado.
The Rockies tacked on two more insurance runs after the Diamondbacks made it close in the sixth. Carlos Gonzalez singled for his fifth hit in two games and Nolan Arenado unloaded on an inside fastball for his 11th home run of the season. He moved out of a tie with teammate Trevor Story for the NL lead in homers.
As it turned out, they didn't really need those runs, but they would need Arenado's glove. He turned three "web gems" in the late innings in addition to driving in three runs, proving again that he is right in the middle of any legitimate conversation about the game's best players.
Jake McGee got his sixth Save (only one blown) of the season.
The sixth inning really could have gotten away from the Rockies and in year's past, smart money would be on just that ocurring. But Boone Logan and Carlos Estevez controlled the two most important at-bats of the game, getting both the actual advantage of keeping runs off the board and the physchological advantage of stealing away such a promising opportunity for the opposition. It was the punch Arizona never recovered from.
The Rockies swept a divisional oppoenent on the road. That's a sentence not often typed. It was the first time in 12 years that the Rockies have swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona.
BSN Denver will have much more on this in the near future, but despite the fact that the Rockies often show success in April and then fall apart -- and still very well may -- this team is playing in a completely different way than in year's part.
The obvious starting point: The Rockies have been demonstrably better on the road than at home this season.
The boys in purple are off to another divisional opponent in the San Diego Padres. Jon Gray gets his third start of the year and he will likely be elated to see a park other than Coors Field which thus far has been a house of horrors for the rookie. James Shields goes for the Padres. Start time is 8:10 MST.