DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Austin Gomber has spent 2021 largely dominating at Coors Field. Good work if you can get it, but it rarely lasts.
On Wednesday afternoon, after missing 4 1/2 weeks with left forearm tightness, Gomber proved he can survive even when he doesn’t thrive. He gave up just three hits, all home runs. But by limiting the Mariners to next to nothing around the homers, Gomber’s work was good enough to lead the Rockies to a 6-3 victory and a split of the two-game set.
“I executed pitches just like I did before I went on the IL, just not at as consistent a clip,” Gomber said. “The last couple times out [before the injury], I was not really walking guys. Not only not walking guys, but I felt I was in pitchers’ counts the whole time. Today I was kind of the opposite.
“But I was able to make the pitch to get the outs.”
Catcher Dom Nuñez’s three-run double off Mariners starter Keynan Middleton highlighted a five-run Rockies first inning. That was enough for Gomber, whose home ERA rose from a miniscule 1.48 to a still-tiny 1.98 (eight earned runs in 36 1/3 innings over seven starts).
Gomber is one of many examples of a Rockies team that excels in Denver. The 33-20 home record, however, stays home as they begin a 10-game road trip against the Dodgers (three games), Angels (three) and Padres (four) on Friday. But the rotation, which lately has been good regardless of venue, is a little more healthy with Gomber.
The only missing piece is righty Antonio Senzatela, who is out per MLB COVID and contact-tracing protocols, as are outfielder Yonathan Daza, relievers Yency Almonte and Jhoulys Chacín, manager Bud Black and first-base coach Ron Gideon.
“The pitch shape with all those pitches was pretty good,” said Nuñez, who happily accepted the big hit after entering the game with a .167 batting average. “I know [Gomber's] command wasn't as good as he wanted it to be. But he got the win, and that’s what's important. Things are going to sharpen up. He's been really good this year. And his track record so far has shown that he's just going to get better as it goes along.”
After throwing 62 pitches in four innings of a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, Gomber was economical, needing only 71 pitches (42 strikes) to get through six innings. He struck out three to offset the three homers from Kyle Seager (second inning), Luis Torrens (fifth) and Mitch Haniger (sixth). The only other baserunner was Torrens, who walked after Seager’s homer.
“The way I pitch, the way I attack, honestly for me, pitch count should never be an issue for me if I’m doing what I’m trying to do,” Gomber said. “That’s attack the zone, throw a lot of strikes, mix it up with four different pitches.
“Just from a pure efficiency standpoint, I was very pleased with how I was able to get through six on the number of pitches I was able to do. I just felt like I could have been better in those pitches.”