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Senzatela stellar mixing pitches vs. Giants

Black impressed with rookie right-hander's work in middle innings
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

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

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.

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

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.

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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 Brandon Crawford'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.

Video: COL@SF: Wolters charges, makes diving underhand throw

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 Tyler Chatwood'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' Denard Span doubled on Senzatela's first pitch. Brandon Belt 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."

Video: COL@SF: Black on Senzatela's comeback performance

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."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Antonio Senzatela