Senzatela stellar mixing pitches vs. Giants

Black impressed with rookie right-hander's work in middle innings

April 16th, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just when you thought you knew Rockies rookie right-handed pitcher

The Giants saw the fastballs they expected and bested him for three runs in the bottom of the first, after the Rockies had scored three on Jeff Samardzija. But from there, Senzatela mixed pitches expertly and held the Giants to nothing else during his seven innings of an eventual 4-3 Rockies victory at AT&T Park.

It was more than pitch selection that Senzatela, 22, varied on Sunday afternoon. He showed more than the icy cool that he demonstrated during a scoreless no-decision at Milwaukee on April 7 and a win over the Padres in his Coors Field debut Tuesday night.

Senzatela practically tackled catcher Tony Wolters after he sprinted from behind the plate to grab 's swinging bunt and threw to first to end the sixth with a runner at third. "I was kinda scared … I saw that and was like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" Wolters said.

Senzatela gave up three of seven hits off him in the first inning. He finished with three strikeouts and 10 ground-ball outs. The effort followed up 's two-hit, 5-0 victory Saturday afternoon, and it allowed the Rockies to win three of four -- their first win of a four-game series in San Francisco in team history.

"Every day is a big game for me," Senzatela said. "I need to go out and make a win for my team."

The Giants' doubled on Senzatela's first pitch. singled, Crawford tripled with one out and he would score on Nick Hundley's sacrifice fly. By the end of the first, Senzatela had thrown 11 fastballs in 13 pitches.

From there, Senzatela still relied on the fastball, but there was enough mixing with his slider and changeup to keep Giants batters from truly knowing what was coming. There were hitters he could beat pumping his main pitch, but with others, he planted seeds of doubt during at-bats.

"I really thought he was throwing the ball [better] later in the game than he was earlier," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Pitch 60-90 was some of his better stuff. That's a good sign."

Mixing as the game progresses is becoming a tendency. In his previous two starts, according to Statcast™, Senzatela threw 41.2 percent fastballs in the first three innings, then dropped the rate to 39.6 in the fourth through seventh frames.

After the fastball-dominant first inning, Senzatela threw fastballs on 47 of his 81 pitches -- or 58 percent.

"For a young kid, he looks like he's got a pretty good feel," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

With each outing, Senzatela's fastball usage has dropped, from 86 percent at Milwaukee to 69.9 percent against the Padres to 61.7 percent of his 94 pitches Sunday.

"His secondary [pitches] looked awesome," Wolters said. "He's going to keep working on it, and throughout the year, it's going to be better, better and better, and his fastball is going to look [like it's moving] 105 mph to hitters."