Melville matches zeros early, sunk by HRs in 6th

September 18th, 2019

DENVER -- Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman schooled the Rockies on Tuesday night. But Rockies starter Tim Melville proved to be a quick study for much of the way.

Stroman dominated the strike zone low and gave up four hits in seven scoreless innings as the Mets won, 6-1, at Coors Field to end the Rockies’ win streak at four games.

Melville, getting his first extended Major League chance after brief stints with the Reds, Twins and Padres in 2016 and ‘17, matched Stroman’s zeros for five innings. Melville benefited from three double plays -- two on the ground and one on a liner.

“In five innings, each guy, the pitch count was down for both, they worked efficiently,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “It was well-pitched.”

However, the low-in-the-zone pitching that Stroman continued eluded Melville in the sixth, when he gave up three home runs -- Amed Rosario’s two-run shot and solo homers from Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso (the 48th of his powerful rookie year). Melville left with two outs and a 4-0 deficit.

Melville (2-3) gave up four homers and five runs in just three innings during his last start, a home loss to the Cardinals. Until the sixth, Melville was having a bounce-back outing.

“You want to bounce back and do a little bit better than last time,” said Melville after his sixth start since being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 21. “I had some things I worked on in between games. That helped me out today and gave me a lot of confidence.”

Then the sixth happened.

“I just got away from what I was doing -- keeping the ball down,” Melville said.

With the Rockies long eliminated from the postseason, Tuesday was a time to wistfully wonder what if.

Stroman was with the Blue Jays on June 1 when he held the Rockies to four runs (three earned) over seven innings. But back then, the Rockies won, 4-2. Those were heady days, when the Rockies fancied themselves contenders and were at least considering trading for a playoff-tested pitcher -- like Stroman. But that wasn’t long before their precipitous drop. The Mets, who had a surprising rise and are still alive for a National League Wild Card spot, grabbed the diminutive righty with nasty sink and a reputation for staying in the strike zone.

Stroman struck out seven and didn’t let a hitter past second base Tuesday. The most successful Rockies hitter was rookie Sam Hilliard, who had two hits.

“He threw the ball well. [He] had a pretty good cutter working tonight -- was able to bury that in on the lefties, threw some good two-seamers to get to the other side of the plate and mixed in some changeups,” first baseman Daniel Murphy said. “I felt his stuff had a lot of finish at the plate.”

Charlie Blackmon’s full-count, two-out homer off Luis Avilan in the ninth saved the Rockies from being shut out at home for the first time this season.