DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black jogged to the mound as if the urgency of his body language could somehow counteract the gloom of the third inning. But no amount of pep or advice could help righty German Márquez, who had a hard time maintaining eye contact and had no answers.
The concerning times continued in Monday afternoon’s 19-2 thrashing at the hands of the Giants in the first game of a doubleheader at Coors.
The fruitless mound visit occurred with Marquez eight runs into his 11-run, 11-hit, 2 2/3-inning debacle. It was the eighth time in the last 15 home games the Rockies have given up double figures in runs. It was Marquez’s worst start in terms of runs, and the second-worst in hits.
“I kinda showed that I didn’t have anything out there today,” Marquez said. “You guys could see that. I’ve just got to keep moving forward and do what I can next time.”
With Marquez having finished second in the National League in innings pitched and eighth in strikeouts before the All-Star break, the Rockies needed more, and better. The Rockies took 2-of-3 from the Reds after the All-Star break, but at a game below .500 (46-47) after Marquez’s egg, there remains the question of whether they can go on enough of a run to justify bolstering the club -- specifically the rotation -- before the Trade Deadline at month’s end.
Marquez (8-5) being caught in the tide of runs is no shock. He entered Monday with a 5.73 ERA in 10 home starts, but he had managed to do just enough to maintain a 4-1 record. Bemoan the “W” if you must, but Rockies pitchers past and now present have understood the art of doing just enough to beat the other guy. The best the Rockies can do these days is to rely on Marquez hanging in, with righty Jon Gray (9-6) serving as the only pitcher to have a handle on Coors, and hope for better from other pitchers.
Instead the better pitcher was Giants starter Jeff Samardzija (7-7), who held the Rockies to four hits -- two by Mark Reynolds, and solo homers by Raimel Tapia and Ryan McMahon with the game long decided. For the first time in his managerial career, the Rockies’ Bud Black resorted to using a position player on the mound -- Reynolds, who gave up two runs in the ninth.
“He couldn’t really get a good feel for the slider, and the slider really is a critical pitch for German, along with his fastball location,” Black said. “But he didn’t really have great feel for the slider. You saw a couple of them bounce with two strikes way out in front of the plate. That’s uncharacteristic for him to do that repeatedly. The curveball, which also is a great weapon for him, didn’t really come into play, either.”
On Monday afternoon, Marquez bent in the Giants’ five-run first. The three singles off him were solid. But the first of Brandon Crawford’s two homers was a Coors Field special -- an opposite-field slice shot to left that had a 29 percent hit probability, according to Statcast.
“I really didn’t think it was hit that hard -- I didn’t know what to think,” Marquez said.
After shortstop Trevor Story lost Crawford’s popup in the sun to put runners at first and second with one out in the third, Marquez broke. Mike Yastrzemski doubled in two runs, and Kevin Pillar brought home another. After the mound visit, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt had RBI singles. Then Jesus Tinoco gave up Buster Posey’s two-run home run.
“He just couldn’t really get untracked from the first inning of the game, Belt [a solid single], until we had to take him out,” Black said.
This strange time of rousing wins and ugly losses has left Rockies Nation in a spasmodic state. The high moments spark dreams of blockbuster deals and games in the slanted sunlight of the postseason. Games like Monday’s first of a doubleheader have the faithful abandoning the ghost. But for Marquez and the Rockies, moving on is most important.
“That’s obviously been tough,” Marquez said. “But I’ve got to keep being positive and get out of this.”
Reynolds, who retired the lone batter he faced in his only career pitching appearance last year for the Nationals, hit Posey with a pitch with one out in the eighth.
Posey stared Reynolds down from the batter’s box. Could it have been a tense moment in a game with a 17-run final margin?
By the time he reached first, Posey broke into a smile. And in case Reynolds didn’t see him, Posey texted postgame.
“He just texted that he acted like he was mad at me, but he was messing around -- I didn’t know where it was going, but I tried to do it down and away,” said Reynolds, who said he volunteered his pitching services to bench coach Mike Redmond in the middle of the game. “When I went to hit, I told him I was just trying to steal a strike with a little curveball down and away. He just laughed.”
Reynolds said former teammates Gerardo Parra, Daniel Descalso and Tyler Chatwood texted, kidding him. But there were some historical oddities to his outing as well:
• The only other time Black used a position player on the mound was June 7, 2009, with the Padres in the 18th inning against the D-backs. Black called on infielder Josh Wilson, who gave up a three-run homer -- to Reynolds, of all people. Black said he wouldn’t have done it Monday if not for the looming doubleheader nightcap.
• Crawford singled off Reynolds to complete a five-hit, eight-RBI game. The last Major Leaguer with at least that many hits and RBIs in a game -- Reynolds, for the Nationals last July 7 against the Marlins.
• Just two position players in Rockies history had pitched in a game -- catcher Brent Mayne, who earned the decision in an extra-inning win over the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000, and infielder Todd Zeile on Sept. 14, 2002.