SEATTLE -- Last season, Rockies right-hander German Marquez showed up at Coors early to meet his baseball idol, Mariners righty Felix Hernandez."My heart was pumping," Marquez, a fellow Venezuelan, said in a pregame interview during which his voice broke.But Friday night, facing "King Felix" for the first time, Marquez harnessed
SEATTLE -- Last season, Rockies right-hander German Marquez showed up at Coors early to meet his baseball idol, Mariners righty Felix Hernandez.
"My heart was pumping," Marquez, a fellow Venezuelan, said in a pregame interview during which his voice broke.
But Friday night, facing "King Felix" for the first time, Marquez harnessed his emotions and unleashed a six-inning, one-run performance while pitching the surging Rockies to their seventh victory in the last eight games -- 7-1 at Safeco Field.
By facing down a star who left him starstruck a year ago, Marquez (7-8) continued his and the Rockies' run of solid pitching that is making them a factor in a tight National League West race.
"I looked up to him growing up, and to be able to face him and beat him is a dream come true," Marquez said. "I was excited, but it still was about hitting my target and executing pitches.
"Felix is a great person. I think he'll be happy for me, and continue to give me advice."
Marquez (7-8) said Hernandez's advice was "keep working hard," but he was happier with a compliment: "He said I have a good arm."
Marquez and his arm had plenty of help from catcher Tony Wolters, who was inserted into the lineup when Tom Murphy was scratched so he could be with his wife, Lindsay, in Denver for the birth of a child. Wolters tripled twice -- the first catcher in Rockies history to do so in one game -- and drove in three runs, plus figured prominently in two potentially run-saving defensive plays.
Additionally, Charlie Blackmon homered off Hernandez on a 3-for-5 night as he improved his season homer total to 16, DJ LeMahieu drove in two runs, and Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story had two hits apiece as the Rockies banged 13 hits.
After going a career-best eight innings while beating the Dodgers in his last start, Marquez held the Mariners to five hits and struck out five against no walks. Denard Span's two-out homer in the sixth was the only run he allowed.
The performance lowered Marquez's road ERA in nine starts to 2.62. Rockies starters have compiled a 2.35 ERA in their last 10 games. The hot stretch includes a four-inning, five-run struggle against the Giants by Jon Gray that led to his being optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, and a three-inning, two-run game that Chad Bettis had to leave with a right middle finger blister that has him on the 10-day disabled list.
Marquez's key inning was the fourth. Shortstop Story ranged right to backhand Dee Gordon's leadoff line drive, but Jean Segura and Span singled. However, Marquez used a sharp breaking ball for the final two pitches of a strikeout of Nelson Cruz, then fanned Kyle Seager on another breaking ball in the dirt.
"That's a momentum-changer if they get a big hit there, especially the guys hitting fourth [Cruz] and fifth [Seager]," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "But German kept the ball down. The breaking ball was down to those two fellows."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wolters entered batting .140, and had started just four of the last 19 games with the Rockies going with veteran Chris Iannetta and power-hitting rookie Murphy. Wolters hadn't managed a hit since June 6.
But with a run-scoring triple off Hernandez in the second and a two-run triple off Roenis Elias in the sixth, he made not just Rockies catcher history, but became the first Rockies player, period, to do it since Story on April 23, 2016, against the Giants, and the first to do it on the road since Cory Sullivan on April 9, 2006 at San Diego.
"I was happy I connected with the ball, did something to help the team offensively," Wolters said. "Our guys put together some good innings, and our pitchers put together some good innings."
Wolters also provided a couple of key defensive plays:
• Gordon, who reached when Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado rushed and bobbled his first-inning leadoff bouncer, attempted to steal second. He looked safe to second-base umpire Joe West. But Black challenged, and the call was overturned to an out -- thanks to a standout Wolters throw and shortstop Story's tag. It helped Marquez settle into the game.
• Gordon was at third with Span batting in the sixth when Marquez's pitch in the dirt bounced away from Wolters. However, Wolters used his former infielder skills to chase down the ball and flip to Marquez for the tag at the plate. The play prevented Span's homer from going for two runs.
"Tony had a really good game -- two triples, was part of the offense, caught German very well, stuck some pitches that I think were probably borderline," Black said. "Good all-around game for Tony."
The only other catcher in the Majors to triple twice in the same game this season was the Cubs' Willson Contreras, in a 13-4 victory over the Marlins on May 9.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
It's not whether you should hang a star on plays by Rockies right fielder Gonzalez. It's how many. Gonzalez ran forward for a diving catch on Segura's line drive for the second out of the first inning. According to Statcast™, Gonzalez covered 43 feet in 3.4 seconds of opportunity time -- which meant the play had a 58 percent catch probability. Catches 51-75 percent are worth three stars, 26-50 percent are worth four and 25 and below five.
This season, Gonzalez has six three-star, three four-star and two five-star catches. Since catch probability was released by Statcast™ in 2016, he has six five-star, eght four-star and 34 three-star grabs.
In his last two games, Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland (8-6, 3.25 ERA) has given up just two runs in 14 innings. It's a top-level matchup for him on Saturday against Mariners righty James Paxton (8-2, 3.39) at Safeco Field at 2:10 p.m. MT. Freeland has pitched well consistently, no matter the opponent. In his last 13 starts, Freeland is 8-3 with a 2.64 ERA.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.