DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez appreciated the intrepid fans who stuck through Coors Field home opener ceremonies and for a game with an announced 27-degree temperature at first pitch. He didn't blame them for leaving when the 8-3 loss to the Braves slipped out of reach, but he was able to
DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez appreciated the intrepid fans who stuck through Coors Field home opener ceremonies and for a game with an announced 27-degree temperature at first pitch. He didn't blame them for leaving when the 8-3 loss to the Braves slipped out of reach, but he was able to thank his faithful before they left.
Gonzalez missiled a first-inning RBI triple and his first home run of the season, which led off the fourth inning. The triple into the right-center gap and the homer -- estimated at 445 feet -- were measured by Statcast™ at 113.7 mph.
For a guy who didn't expect to be back -- Gonzalez took a one-year, $8 million offer during Spring Training when the bidding he expected didn't materialize -- it was his way of saying hello, again, to fans he appreciates.
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"I don't blame 'em," Gonzalez said when asked about the fact that not every ticketholder occupied a seat early and few stuck around when the Rox fell behind. "We have such great fans. They hang in there. They waited until first pitch. The house was packed. If I was a fan, I promise I would stay for the first pitch only under this circumstance.
"What was it, 24 degrees? Anything below 30 is stupid."
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Of the hard-hit balls, Gonzalez said he'd love to reach 120 mph, but given the trap of overswinging, said: "I don't want to try. I've got to be easy. When I try to crush the ball, it goes soft. When I try to make easy contact, it takes off."
Gonzalez's homer, followed three batters later by Trevor Story's first homer of the season, reduced the Rockies' deficit to 4-3 against Braves starter Brandon McCarthy (2-0) -- who settled in from there and held Colorado to three runs and five hits in six innings. But ultimately, the Rockies couldn't keep pace because of the struggles of their starter, righty German Marquez (0-1).
Bravely pitching without long sleeves beneath his Purple Pinstripes -- "I don't like to use them," he said -- Marquez gave up four runs in a first inning that featured Ozzie Albies' second homer of the season, three walks and a Dansby Swanson two-run triple. Marquez held the Braves scoreless for three innings before his day ended two outs into the fifth.
Swanson, who finished a homer shy of a cycle, doubled on a hanging 0-2 breaking ball for one run in the fifth, and McCarthy had his first career extra-base hit and just his seventh knock overall in 121 at-bats, a two-run double. Marquez yielded seven runs on seven hits and six walks (two intentional) in 4 2/3 innings.
"I didn't really think [the cold] affected me that much -- I pitched in those conditions in the Minor Leagues and it's just one of those things, bad outings," said Marquez, who held the D-backs to one unearned run in five innings in his first 2018 start. "We've got to overcome those obstacles that come with the game of baseball."
Pressed further, Marquez acknowledged, "It was a little tough. I didn't have my grip at all."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No lifeline for you! Things really got cold for Marquez after he followed Albies' one-out homer by issuing two walks. Marquez needed a little luck. Instead, Kurt Suzuki's popup landed just in front of sliding center fielder Charlie Blackmon to load the bases. Swanson's triple followed two batters later.
Hitting in the mountain air: It was a nice pitching performance for McCarthy, but the two-run double was a rare event. Maybe it had something to do with being home. McCarthy graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs and was drafted (White Sox, 17th round, 2002) out of Lamar (Colo.) Community College.
"Ender [Inciarte, the Braves' center fielder] was like, 'What is this?' I'm like, 'I told you, like, two months ago to be ready for this." -- Gonzalez, speaking to Inciarte, his longtime friend and offseason workout partner, about the cold at Coors Field
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"That sounds great. I mean, anything's better than 24." -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who is playing through left knee soreness, on a forecast that suggested Saturday's temperature could be around 60 degrees
HOFFMAN HEADED IN RIGHT DIRECTION
Righty Jeff Hoffman threw a two-inning simulated game with one walk in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday and feels in good shape for joining Class A Advanced Lancaster on an injury rehab assignment for shoulder soreness that reared just after Spring Training games began.
"I don't remember a time when my shoulder felt quite this free," said Hoffman, who went 6-5 with a 5.89 ERA in 23 games (16 starts) last season and hopes to push into the rotation when healthy. "It's nice to feel, and I'm glad we caught it when we did."
Hoffman was considered the key piece of the trade with the Blue Jays that sent away star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Rockies: The idea of righty Chad Bettis (1-0, 3.60 ERA) starting for the Rockies against the Braves at Coors Field on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. MT sparks fond memories. After missing much of last season battling testicular cancer, Bettis held the Braves scoreless on six hits, with two strikeouts, on Aug. 14.
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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.