Blake Street turned into Easy Street for Rockies starters in their victories over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.
It wasn’t just that Antonio Senzatela flashed excellent stuff in Colorado’s 8-0 win on Wednesday, or that Jon Gray no-hit the D-Backs for six innings in Thursday’s 7-3 victory. Credit must also go to the Rockies’ offense, an underproductive unit over the last two seasons.
Colorado pounded out 10 timely hits Thursday and catcher Dom Nunez hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning for the knockout punch. It was his third home run in 14 at-bats this season. Last year, Rockies catchers produced just two homers in 207 at-bats, both by Elias Diaz, who’s still with the team.
Overall, Colorado’s offense has been sluggish through the first seven games of the season, with a .236 average and .289 on-base percentage. But the Rockies have hit 12 home runs.
Thursday, Colorado ambushed starter Merrill Kelly in the first inning, banging out three runs on four consecutive hits: Singles by Garrett Hampson and Raimel Tapia; a run-scoring double off the left-field fence by Trevor Story; and a two-run single by Charlie Blackmon that clanged off the out-of-town scoreboard in right.
Story, whose first-inning double snapped an 0-for-14 skid, made it 4-0 in the second with an RBI triple to right-center to score Hampson.
“Today was the perfect example of having no worries,” Gray said when asked about the support he received from his offense. “You’re just pitching, and you get in the zone and it’s a great feeling when you get up by four or five runs. Everything’s on you from there on out, but you have a lot of cushion, so you just kind of attack.”
Gray’s fastball did not blaze Thursday, topping out at 94.5 mph, while averaging around 92. But he still went after hitters with his slider, as well as an improving changeup, and he kept the visitors guessing. Through two starts, Gray is 1-0 with a nifty 1.54 ERA.
The right-hander’s no-hitter was nixed when David Peralta led off the seventh with a triple to left-center. He scored on Pavin Smith’s follow-up single to right, spoiling the shutout. Nonetheless, Gray pitched a gem: 6 2/3 innings, one run allowed on two hits. He walked four and fanned five.
Gray received a lengthy standing ovation when he left the game.
Nunez, who spent last season with the club’s alternative camp, is fitting in seamlessly with the Rockies’ pitching staff, and he was especially good on Thursday, steering Gray against the D-Backs.
“I thought Dom did a great job of handling Jon today with pitch selection and game calling. It was wonderful,” manager Bud Black said. “We’ve talked about that before — our confidence in Dom. They followed a pretty good game plan from our pregame meeting. I’m really proud of how those two worked together.”
On Friday, the 3-4 Rockies hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to San Francisco to take on the Giants. It will be an interesting test to see if Colorado’s offense can continue to support its pitching.
Boxscore: Rockies 7, D-backs 3
Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (0-1, 3.00 ERA) at Giants RHP Johnny Queto (0-0, 4.76)
2:35 p.m. Friday, Oracle Park
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Gomber, the centerpiece of the Nolan Arenado trade with St. Louis, had a tough Rockies debut. He gave up a career-high seven walks in just three innings in a 4-2 loss to the Dodgers at Coors Field. Though he only gave up one hit and one earned run, he also had a throwing error. Both Gomber and manager Bud Black attributed his poor performance to Gomber being “too amped up.” It will be interesting to see how he does in his second start. Cueto has pitched well vs. Colorado, going 9-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 18 starts. The veteran right-hander opened the season with a decent outing vs. Seattle, going 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs with six hits and seven strikeouts.
Trending: Closer Daniel Bard got the final two outs in Thursday’s win over Arizona to get his second save of the season. He’s pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in four games this season, and he’s 8-for-8 in save opportunities with the Rockies dating back to 2020.
At issue: Right-handed reliever Carlos Estevez continues to struggle. He gave up a two-run homer and walked two in one-third of an inning Thursday.
Saturday: Rockies RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (1-0, 5.40) at Giants RHP Logan Webb (0-1, 5.06), 2:05 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (0-0, 3.60) at Giants RHP Anthony DeSclafani (0-0, 1.80), 2:05 p.m., ATTRM
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