SAN FRANCISCO -- Jon Gray lost his way with the fastball and put the Rockies behind early during an eventual 9-4 loss to the Giants on Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park.Because of the disappearance of an effective fastball in his last two starts, Gray (4-6) barely resembles the right-hander that
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jon Gray lost his way with the fastball and put the Rockies behind early during an eventual 9-4 loss to the Giants on Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park.
Because of the disappearance of an effective fastball in his last two starts, Gray (4-6) barely resembles the right-hander that had given up just one run in 20 innings.
The pitching issues weren't isolated to Gray. Lefty reliever Chris Rusin gave up two earned runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings, and Brandon Crawford's two-run homer in the sixth off Brooks Pounders helped wash out the nine-hit offensive effort. Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra had two hits apiece, and Ian Desmond backed up his four-RBI effort in Friday night's victory with another solid offensive day -- two runs scored, one hit, two walks and a stolen base.
"We fought back a couple different times, which was great," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "But we didn't make enough good pitches throughout the course of the day from all three of our pitchers."
Of the nine hits Gray surrendered in his 3 2/3 innings, five came on the four-seam fastball. Two of them came during a rough three-run Giants third highlighted by Crawford's bases-loaded, two-run double that left the bat at 100.4 mph, and Miguel Gomez's follow-up single.
In a home loss to the Brewers last Sunday, eight of the 10 hits against Gray came on fastballs, and hitters have swung and missed just eight times on 83 fastballs in his past two starts, according to Statcast™. The Brewers and Giants combined for a .591 batting average and .864 slugging percentage on Gray's fastballs.
With his offense hanging in during the early innings, Gray had chances to limit the damage. Instead, the execution of his pitches waned, and whether backing up third base or walking around the mound after something went awry, Gray looked angry and frustrated. And the pitches didn't improve.
"It was frustrating from the get-go, really," Gray said. "Sometimes, I think I get worried about things I can't control. I'm just going to focus on what I can, the 60 feet between me and the catcher.
"It just happens. Today, it just happened all day. I'm not going to let it discourage me, though."
Things could've been worse. After Gorkys Hernandez's double in the second inning put men at second and third, second baseman Daniel Castro made a diving play on pitcher Chris Stratton's grounder that prevented a hit and prevented a second run from scoring.
The Rockies trailed, 4-3, going into the bottom of the fourth. Gray gave up Gregor Blanco's leadoff triple, which bounced oddly past Desmond at first base, then hit the ball bag in the visiting bullpen in right-field foul ground. Gray was able to record two outs before Brandon Belt singled softly into right-center on Rusin's first pitch.
"I think his command could've been a little better, and he got unraveled a little quick," said catcher Tony Wolters, who caught some of Gray's best starts, but also has endured the last two rough ones. "Jon needs to be able to turn the page quick. He's getting better at times, when he slows the game down and executes pitches. That's all he should care about. Just be a robot out there."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Rusin started the year slowly before finding his form, but that was interrupted by an intercostal strain that landed him on the 10-day disabled list. Since his return, however, Rusin has not been effective. Andrew McCutchen's two-run, two-out double to left in the fifth was a clear example.
The score was 5-4. It was the type of game that Rusin excelled in last year, when he pitched a National League high 85 relief innings and posted a 2.65 ERA. Rusin yielded hits to two of the first three batters of the inning, but fanned Blanco and had McCutchen 0-2 when he missed up and in the middle with a cutter.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Trevor Story's single to right with two on and two out in the fifth drove in Blackmon from third. Parra tried to go first to third, but McCutchen delivered an accurate throw to Evan Longoria from right field. Parra, who tried a swim move to avoid the tag, was originally ruled safe. Replay review would overturn the call, however.
The Rockies have won lefty Tyler Anderson's last five road starts. Anderson (3-1, 4.30 ERA), will face the Giants and lefty Ty Blach (3-4, 4.05) in Sunday's series finale at 2:05 p.m. MT. It would be a good time for Anderson to break through against the Giants, since he is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts at AT&T Park, and 0-2 with a 4.67 ERA against them in three starts overall.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.