Fuentes pitches: 'We just went with Josh'

April 27th, 2021

Monday was forgettable for the Rockies, on the field and off. But at least walked away with a memento and a smile.

General manager Jeff Bridich resigned in the morning, 21 games into his seventh season. In the evening, left-handed starting pitcher Austin Gomber bowed out after giving up nine runs in 1 2/3 innings to the Giants at Oracle Park.

But Fuentes, a corner infielder hitting .190 and looking for playing time any way he can get it, pitched a scoreless eighth inning -- lobbing pitches 74-79 mph -- to finish up a 12-0 defeat.

The Rockies dropped to their worst road start (0-7) since beginning play in 1993. But Fuentes, who gave up only a single to Buster Posey (who had three hits off actual pitchers), left the field with a smile and a ball -- which he stuffed into his back pocket after Darin Ruf’s inning-ending fielder’s choice grounder.

The Rockies had something to smile about as Fuentes arrived at the dugout. First baseman C.J. Cron even gave him a leaping body bump. But that was more laughing to keep from crying.

Long reliever Jhoulys Chacín absorbed 3 1/3 innings and gave up one run on three hits. Righty reliever Tyler Kinley, needing work in hopes he can be sharp in tighter games, gave up a Posey homer but struck out five in two innings. There was an inning left, and manager Bud Black used Fuentes to keep a reliever from wasting pitches.

“I dislike that a lot,” Black said. “I never want to do that. But tonight's game I thought warranted that. We looked at a couple guys who were on our bench. Sam [Hilliard, who pitched in college]. Josh. We just went with Josh.”

The Rockies ran out of pitchers before covering the required innings because Gomber, who held the Giants to two runs on one hit in a 3-1 loss on April 9 at Oracle Park, couldn’t work his curveball the way he did previously.

Gomber, who had not given up more than three earned runs in any previous start this season, was so ineffective that Black said the Rockies would look at video to see if “maybe they had something” that told them his curveball was coming. Gomber cited his own ineffectiveness rather than any intelligence the Giants may have had.

“It’s hard to just pitch bad and then resort to that,” Gomber said. “A lot of the hits were just middle of the plate. It was more about execution and putting myself in bad counts, and they had a good game plan. I tried to come in and do the same thing attack-wise and approach-wise, and they were on it today.”

Fuentes, who struck out in the ninth inning against Anthony DeSclafani -- as part of DeSclafani’s three-hit shutout -- became the sixth Rockies position player to take the mound. It has happened three times against the Giants.

The other five position-player pitchers:

• Catcher Brent Mayne worked a scoreless 12th inning and earned a 7-6 win over the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000, at Coors Field.

• Third baseman Todd Zeile pitched a scoreless ninth in a 16-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sept. 14, 2002, at Coors Field.

• First baseman Mark Reynolds took over for one inning of a 19-2 home loss to the Giants on July 15, 2019.

• Outfielder Ian Desmond not only pitched a scoreless eighth but homered in the ninth inning of a 16-9 loss at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 2, 2019.

• Last Sept. 1, catcher Drew Butera pitched 1 2/3 innings of a 23-5 loss to the Giants at Coors Field.