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Gray effective, but Rockies lose 6th in a row

@goodforball
April 12, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- A solid performance by starter Jon Gray shattered the monotony Thursday night for the Rockies, whose offense remained oddly stagnant in a 1-0 loss to the Giants. Kevin Pillar’s seventh-inning leadoff homer off Gray accounted for the game’s only scoring as the Rockies tumbled to their sixth

SAN FRANCISCO -- A solid performance by starter Jon Gray shattered the monotony Thursday night for the Rockies, whose offense remained oddly stagnant in a 1-0 loss to the Giants.

Kevin Pillar’s seventh-inning leadoff homer off Gray accounted for the game’s only scoring as the Rockies tumbled to their sixth consecutive defeat, their longest such streak since they lost eight in a row from June 21-28 in 2017. Colorado (3-10) matched its worst 13-game record in franchise history, as the 2005 club also began the season 3-10 en route to a 67-95 finish.

Colorado catcher Tony Wolters assured observers that all remains well in the Rockies’ clubhouse.

“We’re pulling for everyone. It’s not hard,” Wolters said. “We’re all out there for each other. We’re a family. This team’s super-close knit.”

Colorado manager Bud Black acknowledged that he and the team have discussed its shortcomings at the plate, which have been exacerbated by the injuries that have sidelined Daniel Murphy and David Dahl.

“We talk every day to our players,” Black said.

About the team’s collective slump?

“Yes, of course,” said Black, whose club has not led in any game since April 3.

Can you share anything from those chats?

“No,” Black said.

In defeat, the Rockies rallied around Gray (0-3), who engineered his best start of the season after entering the game with a 5.68 ERA. Facing the offensively challenged Giants, who began Thursday ranked 28th in the Major Leagues in runs per game (2.9) and 29th in OPS (.585), Gray yielded five hits and three walks in 6 2/3 mostly uneventful innings.

“Today he showed his warrior mentality,” Wolters said.

However, Pillar’s homer not only doomed the Rockies, but it also extended Gray’s streak of allowing at least one home run to 15 consecutive games. That equaled a National League record previously established by Mark Leiter (April 17-July 4, 1996) and Ramon Ortiz (May 1-July 17, 2005).

In his seventh-inning confrontation with Pillar, Gray threw a first-pitch slider that he elevated a little too much.

“I thought it was a good plan,” Gray said. “It was a good slider. It just wasn’t put In the best spot. It’s getting better. It’s getting more efficient every single time. It’s getting better spin. I’m not losing as many. I feel like the pitch is taking off.”

The Rockies, whose .216 batting average entering the game ranked 13th in the National League, supported Gray by collecting three singles, including two by second baseman Garrett Hampson. Colorado advanced only one runner as far as second base.

Gray had no complaints.

“I know that we’re having a tough time right now,” Gray said. “It happens in baseball. But with the guys we have, you won’t see it much longer. Guys work too hard; they’re too good. I think they’re still the best offense in the entire world.”

Following that logic, Giants starter Jeff Samardzija sustained an otherworldly effort.

“With him, I think he was really hitting his spots,” Black said. “The assortment of off-speed pitches and the running fastball were very good today. It looked to me like he was really hitting the corners with his slider. His fastball had some movement in on our right-handed hitters. The slower breaking ball, a little cutter, had some deception to it.”

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.