SAN FRANCISCO -- The purple athletic tape around Rockies rookie pitcher Jon Gray's right ankle, which he wore long after Thursday's game was done, was a reminder of a hurtful sixth inning in a 7-2 loss to the Giants.The pain started early in the sixth, when leadoff man Brandon Crawford
SAN FRANCISCO -- The purple athletic tape around Rockies rookie pitcher Jon Gray's right ankle, which he wore long after Thursday's game was done, was a reminder of a hurtful sixth inning in a 7-2 loss to the Giants.
The pain started early in the sixth, when leadoff man Brandon Crawford smashed a hard bouncer off Gray's ankle. Gray compounded the problem with a throwing error that put Crawford at second.
The inning, which started with the score tied at 2, didn't improve much. Four of the five balls the Giants put in play didn't leave the infield. Nonetheless, Gray and the Rockies were left smarting after a three-run inning.
"A lot of things happened," Gray said. "They [the Giants] did a really good job of playing small ball. They put the pressure on us and I didn't respond that well."
After Gray passed the tests of the Rockies' athletic training staff and was allowed to continue, Ángel Pagán bunted for a hit. Then first baseman Gerardo Parra charged Joe Panik's bouncer and threw to third, hoping to retire Crawford, who thought better of heading for home. Crawford beat the throw.
Conor Gillaspie added a sacrifice fly before Gray's next mistake led to another ill-fated play on the infield grass.
Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto dropped a sacrifice bunt that Gray should have fielded. But he didn't, forcing third baseman Nolan Arenado to pick it up and throw to first -- wildly enough to let two runs score.
"I think I took a bad line at it -- if I would've stayed more toward third base," Gray said. "But I rushed in too fast. It kind of surprised me."
Gray (10-10) pitched around runners in scoring position in the second and third innings and gave up two runs in the fourth in what until the sixth was a solid start. He was charged with five runs, four earned, and eight hits, with three strikeouts and three walks.
Gray finished with a Rockies rookie-record 185 strikeouts, including a club-record 16 against the Padres on Sept. 16. He hopes for a good follow-up campaign in 2017.
"I wanted to improve each time, for years -- I want to get better," he said. "I'm glad I'm able to step up and be a starting pitcher until the end for the team. But there are still a lot of areas I need to grow in."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.