Senzatela outduels Arrieta, Rockies continue to rock NL aces

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DENVER - The Chicago Cubs, defending World Series Champions, handed the ball to a former Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta for the first game of a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies. The home team sent 22-year-old rookie Antonio Senzatela to the hill to do what he could to hang with the big bad boys in blue. Twas the rookie who came out looking like the seasoned veteran in a 10-4 beatdown of the Champs.

Meanwhile, it was the shortest outing for Arrieta as a Cub and his least amount of time pitched since July 5, 2012, when he was with Baltimore.

Ian Desmond told us yesterday that the Rockies would not be intimidated by the champs. “They were World Champs last year, this year they’re just the Cubs. That’s no disrespect to win a title is a big deal and they earned but this is a new year.”

The Cubs scored the first run of the game in the third. Kyle Schwarber hit a double to begin the frame and he came around on a pair of productive outs from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, scoring on a groundout to second off the bat of the latter.

But Colorado came back in a big way in the bottom of the frame. Charlie Blackmon, who was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Senzatela while he was standing on deck, smashed a triple off the out of town scoreboard and came in on a double from DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu moved up to third on a throwing error that allowed Nolan Arenado to reach base and Carlos Gonzalez scored him on a single. Mark Reynolds came through yet again with an RBI single of his own and Ian Desmond followed with the club's third straight but didn't get an RBI because Gonzalez was thrown out at home on a questionable send by third base coach Stu Cole.

It looked for a moment like that might come back to really hurt the Rockies, especially when Trevor Story strode to the plate and got into an 0-2 count immediately. But Story bore down and worked the walk, setting the stage for huge two-out RBI bloop single to center from veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan.

The Rockies poured in three more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a sac fly from Arenado (scoring Blackmon who had walked) and RBI singles from Reynolds and Story.

It was Story's second single of the game, something he has struggled with so far in this season of feast or famine. The similarly slumping Gonzalez also reached base twice in this game and generally looked better at the plate. If those two players get going, this team is going to go from scary upstart to team to beat. Each also had web gem catches in the sixth inning, CarGo's diving catch had only a five percent chance of being caught, according to Statcast.

Every single member of the Rockies lineup recorded at least one hit in this game, a day a four-lettered sports network ranked their offense the 25th best in baseball.

On the other side of things, the Rockies rookie did it again, powering through the game despite having to work out of a few tough jams. Most notably, Chicago loaded the bases in the fourth but a clever deke from Gonzalez in right field kept a run from scoring and the runners from moving up. But with the bases loaded and nobody out, Senzatela worked out of the inning, allowing just one run on a fielder's choice, striking out Miguel Montero to end the threat.

Senzatela's final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 99 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.

Reynolds made it a 10-2 game in the top of the sixth with his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot that went 412 feet. Reynolds went 3-for-4 with a three to bring his season batting average to .330 and put him in sole possession second place in MLB for most runs driven in 30. He sits behind just Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals in both home runs and RBI.

The Cubs plated what amounted to a meaningless run in the seventh off of Chris Rusin and another in the ninth off of Chad Qualls but otherwise went quietly into the afternoon, getting routed by the Rockies.

This win moves Colorado to 21-12 and keeps their lead in the NL West at two games. It's the first time they have been at least nine games over .500 this deep in the year since September 26, 2010. The last time they were nine games above .500 at all was April of 2013. Colorado has now defeated Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, and Jake Arrieta already this season.

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