The effectiveness that had eluded Rockies right-hander Germán Márquez for three starts was back Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. He was in no mood to let go.
With two down and a runner at second in the seventh inning of a tie game and Mookie Betts -- owner of a walk and two hits -- headed to the plate, Rockies manager Bud Black walked toward the mound. Black was still walking across the grass when Márquez made his case.
“I told him, ‘Don’t take me out of the game. This guy’s going to be mine,’” Márquez said. “He trusts me.
“Everything was good.”
Two 97 mph fastballs later, Betts flied to right and Márquez was truly back. And the Rockies, who haven’t produced for Márquez all season -- and haven’t done much against the Dodgers for two years now -- used a three-run top of the ninth to win, 5-2. It was just the Rockies’ second win in their last 19 games at Dodger Stadium, and fifth in the last 29 meetings overall.
The win went to reliever Yency Almonte, but Márquez can be happy for the late runs. He came in with the fourth-lowest run support average (3.75) of any NL pitcher with at least 40 innings. The only runs with Márquez in the game both involved Charlie Blackmon: an unearned run after his leadoff double in the third, and a solo shot in the fourth, his fifth homer of the season.
Márquez’s seven innings, with two runs on five hits and five strikeouts, was in line with his early-season performances. If he can perform that way in the flickering days of this short season, he could help lift the Rockies -- winners of just eight of their last 25 -- into the expanded postseason.
“It got us pumped up because he wanted to stay in that game.”
Black said Márquez needn’t have worried.
“I was going to talk to him and we were going to map out a strategy against Betts,” Black said. “I liked the way he was throwing the ball.
“I know Germán, when tested, can execute pitches.”
Through his first five starts, Márquez had a 2.25 ERA and opponents batted .227. But in his last three starts, the location of his fastball and slider (especially on key pitches) escaped him, and he posted a 10.13 ERA with a .348 opponents’ batting average.
Márquez had some foibles. He opened three innings with walks, including one that started the Dodgers’ two-run fifth. He also benefited from right fielder Sam Hilliard leaping and pulling back Cody Bellinger’s leadoff fly to open the fourth.
But Saturday’s success was the result of Márquez correcting a delivery creep -- not extending toward home plate as fully as earlier -- that led to fastballs missing in key situations. And he used fastballs on several two-out pitches, including Bellinger’s grounder to end the first, as well as fly balls by Edwin Ríos in the second, Max Muncy in the fifth and Betts.
No wonder he had no intention of giving up the mound when Betts was up in a potentially game-turning situation in the seventh.
"The stuff is just elite,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It's 97, 98 [mph], it's a real plus change, it's a slider that stays in the lane a long time with depth. He gets left and right out. He's their ace over there, so you know you've got your hands full when you face that guy."
Márquez exited with a 2.09 ERA in six career starts at Dodger Stadium. And despite the Rockies’ troubles there, four of Márquez’s starts have been team wins.
“I handle what I can handle,” Márquez said. “We have a great team, so I don’t worry about it. We have been under fire and we have to keep winning games.”