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Rare air: Rockies hit three HRs off Kershaw

April 8, 2017

DENVER -- Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra delivered back-to-back homers off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw -- something he had never experienced -- to lift the Rockies to a 4-2 victory at Coors Field on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 48,012."It doesn't surprise me," Reynolds said when it was

DENVER -- Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra delivered back-to-back homers off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw -- something he had never experienced -- to lift the Rockies to a 4-2 victory at Coors Field on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 48,012.
"It doesn't surprise me," Reynolds said when it was noted consecutive homers off Kershaw had never happened. "He's tough. He just left a couple pitches up in the zone, and me and Parra put good swings on them.
"You've got to pick a pitch. His slider is tough. His heater, he elevates. His curveball, it's tough sledding. You've got to hope he makes a mistake. He made three of them tonight."
There was more homer history off Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner. Because Nolan Arenado homered in the first inning, the game was the third time that Kershaw had given up three homers in a game. Two have been against the Rockies.
"I know he felt good, he had good stuff, it's just one of those things with good hitters," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw's outing.
Arenado's homer, his second, also was a one-of-a kind feat. It came on a 75 mph curveball, and was just the fourth on a Kershaw curve since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Arenado's was the hardest-hit (103.7 mph) and farthest projected distance (431 feet) on a homer on a Kershaw bender.

Reynolds continued his hot start -- and broke a 1-1 tie, with a homer to left field with Arenado on base courtesy of a bloop single. Parra followed with his first of the year. Interestingly, Parra is a career .364 (12-for-33) hitter off Kershaw; the homer was his first, but he has three doubles and a triple. More >>
Kershaw (1-1), who was 10-0 in his previous 11 starts against the Rockies, gave up four runs on eight hits and struck out six in six innings.
"Knowing Clayton like I do from the other dugout, he's a tough customer -- as tough as anybody in the Major Leagues," said Rockies manager Bud Black, who faced Kershaw often while running the Padres 2007-15. "You've got to do everything you can, every at-bat. You've got to make it as hard on him as possible." More >>
Rockies righty starter Jon Gray held the Dodgers to one run -- Alvin Toles' first homer of the season, with two out in the fifth -- on four hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Manager Bud Black gave Gray a shot at completing six, but Adrian Gonzalez singled. Mike Dunn (2-0) completed the inning and began a bullpen effort that ended with Greg Holland's fourth save.

Switcheroo just in time: Black gave Carlos Gonzalez a rest from the lineup, then accidentally had his corner outfielders -- Parra and Stephen Cardullo -- in the wrong positions. He corrected it, and it paid off when Parra, who started in his familiar left field, made a four-star play (32 percent catch expectancy) in the fourth, diving forward to grab a Yasiel Puig liner to end the frame with two runners on base. He covered 33 feet in the opportunity time of 2.9 seconds. And the route was nearly perfect.

Did he know where the ball would land and how much time he had when it was hit?
"It's hard to say," Parra said. "There's adrenaline in baseball. I know when he hit it. I was thinking slide and go catch it. There's only one opportunity. Catch it or drop it. It's good for me I caught it."
Parra also made a leaping catch to end the third on Corey Seager's drive. And Black's lineup move kept giving in the sixth when Cardullo, who ended up playing right and looked more comfortable there than left in Spring Training, made a sliding catch on a Kershaw liner.

Gray's escape: Gray had a high pitch count -- 96, with 53 strikes -- and just one strikeout, but hung in against what could become a marquee matchup if the Rockies improve their lot. But his biggest pitch may have come in the third, after Kershaw led off with a single to left. Gray killed the momentum by forcing Toles into a double-play grounder to first.
Even on a night of inefficiency, Gray left happy with the team's win and with holding the Dodgers to a single run.
"It's a lot of fun going up against a guy like [Kershaw]; it almost makes the game worth a lot more to you," Gray said. "It's a moment I cherish. If I get more of those opportunities, it's a good thing."

"After it happened, I think he knew it was a base-running mistake." -- Roberts, on Yasiel Puig caught stealing third base down three runs to end the seventh inning
The Rockies were part of other homer history against Kershaw. The last time he gave up more than one in an inning was April 26, 2009, to the Rockies' Clint Barmes and Ryan Spilborghs.
Word may get around that running on Rockies catcher Dustin Garneau is not a great idea. In parts of two seasons, he has throw out 12 of 27 runners on steal attempts.
Dodgers:Kenta Maeda starts in Sunday's 12:10 p.m. PT series finale and has been effective against the Rockies, going 2-2 with a 1.90 ERA in four career starts. But the Dodgers are 0-2 this year and were 22-24 last year against left-handed starters.
Rockies: Lefty Tyler Anderson went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Dodgers in three starts last season as a rookie. He will try to stay unbeaten against them Sunday at Coors Field at 1:10 p.m. MT.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989 and for since 2001.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002.