Takeaways from Rockies' first loss to Marlins
MIAMI -- The Rockies managed to scatter eight hits in their first loss of 2019 -- 7-3 to the Marlins on Saturday night.
The Rockies also learned that first baseman Daniel Murphy, after two games on a two-year, $24 million contract, has what he says is a fractured left index finger sustained on Friday. But here are some takeaways from Saturday:
Anderson didn’t miss bats when it mattered
Starter Tyler Anderson gave up nine hits and five runs while throwing 85 pitches in five innings. He struck out three and didn’t issue a walk. He doesn’t always have dominant stuff, but to succeed he has to make pitches at key times, like with two outs.
“He’s been around the game long enough to know what happened with two outs -- he’s a smart guy, he’s a bright guy,” manager Bud Black said. “No matter who you are, and I had Greg Maddux at 42 years old [with the Padres], you always learn. You learn from every game.”
• Lewis Brinson doubled and Martin Prado singled to open the second. Anderson was in good shape after Curtis Granderson’s sacrifice fly and a strikeout of Chad Wallach. However, he give up a single to winning pitcher Pablo Lopez, then Miguel Rojas cued a double down the first-base line for a 2-0 lead.
• With runners at second and third, infield in, and one out in the fourth, Anderson handled Lopez by forcing a grounder to short. But Rojas knocked a solid double to left, and Rosell Herrera singled for a 5-2 lead.
Making them work, but not making them hurt
Lopez struck out a career-high seven, but he was out of the game after throwing 88 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. It fit a pattern from the first two games. Jose Urena threw 94 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings in the Rockies’ 6-3 Opening Day win. Colorado managed just one run against Trevor Richards on Friday, but pushed him off the mound after 81 pitches in a 6-1 victory.
The Rockies scored twice in the third, on Charlie Blackmon’s infield single and David Dahl’s sacrifice fly, and another in the sixth after Lopez was out of the game, but the big hit was missing.
“His fastball played up -- he did a good job throwing it up in the zone, coming in to lefties,” Dahl said. “Then, he would throw that changeup off of it. I felt like I was at least in between all night.
“The results might not be there, but this is a tough park to hit in. I feel like Nolan [Arenado] is crushing the ball, but they just haven’t gone anywhere. Just keep having those at-bats and we’ll get going.”
Black said of the offense, “It’s early in the year. Pitchers are still getting their feet underneath them as far as their pitch count, but overall, we’re having good at-bats.”
Lefty hitters trying to rewrite scouting report
Teams shift their defenses against Blackmon, Dahl and Ryan McMahon, who played first base with Murphy out. But Blackmon, who had two opposite-field hits on Friday, went up the middle for one of his two hits on Saturday, McMahon’s two hits were hard in the middle of the field, and Dahl’s seventh-inning triple skidded under the glove of center fielder Brinson.
“We go over every guy very well and we have a plan,” Dahl said. “For me, with lefties, just try to stay in there and not fly open. You fly open, you don’t give yourself a chance. Just try to use the big part of the field on them.”
The real game plan
Lefty reliever Jake McGee struggled last season and he had an 11.57 ERA in seven Spring Training appearances. But much of that time was spent working on a slider, which he hopes to use not to replace his fastball, but to serve as a strategic change.
“Some of the older guys, that’s the time to work on things,” McGee said. “You don’t want to work on things during the season.
“Knowing my fastball was where I wanted it to be, I didn’t need to work on it as much.”
On Saturday, McGee used the slider on just two of his 21 pitches in a sixth inning that saw him give up two soft hits and deal with a Blackmon error in right. The fastball touched 95 mph, which is in a nice range for him, and the inning went scoreless.
The Marlins scored two in the seventh against righty DJ Johnson.
Diving into action
McMahon moved to second base, which allowed right-handed-hitting rookie Garrett Hampson to make his first 2019 start. Hampson made a diving stop of Starlin Castro’s fifth-inning leadoff grounder.
“I was over in the hole a little bit, trying to play a little shift on Castro -- he likes to shoot that four-hole,” Hampson said. “He hit it pretty well up the middle and I was able to get to it. It happened so fast. You’ve got to react, try to catch it and make the play.”
Black said, “That’s a great play. From field level, that ball was hit hard. That was smashed. We’ll play some defense.”
Another record, but this not so good
This series marked the first time the Rockies have won two straight games in the same season at Marlins Park, and they have won just one series (2013) since the park opened in '13. But on Saturday, the Rockies gave up 16 hits -- the third most in a game in Miami. They’ve given up 17 on two occasions.
Rockies right-hander Jon Gray, coming off a strange 2018 (5-12, 5.12 ERA), had a solid spring (3.48 ERA in six starts). In Sunday's series finale at Marlins Park, he will face Miami righty Sandy Alcantara at 11:10 MT.