NEW YORK -- Bud Black said it was all about the pitching.Pitch well, and the Rockies could reverse the funk that began in late June and led to 15 losses in 20 games. Pitch well, and the Rockies could turn their surprising first half into something even better in the
NEW YORK -- Bud Black said it was all about the pitching.
Pitch well, and the Rockies could reverse the funk that began in late June and led to 15 losses in 20 games. Pitch well, and the Rockies could turn their surprising first half into something even better in the months to come.
"For me, the state of the team depends on the rotation," the Rockies manager said Sunday morning. "And the bullpen, too."
Black is not wrong, but scoring 13 runs sure helped the state of the Rockies as they left Citi Field late Sunday afternoon. Scoring 13 runs made the flight home more pleasant, and it brightened the outlook for the days ahead.
"When we get hot, watch out," said pitcher Jeff Hoffman, who rode all the runs to a 13-4 win over the Mets in his first Major League start in his home state. "Look at this offense, the lineups we can put out there. I'm hoping this opens a waterfall."
The Rockies scored four times before Hoffman even took the mound in the bottom of the first, and Nolan Arenado's three-run home run made it 7-0 in the second. By the time Gerardo Parra finished the scoring with a two-run home run in the eighth, the Rockies had their highest run total of the season and the third-most runs they have scored in a road game since 2008.
It helped to have Ian Desmond back from the disabled list, and it was Desmond whose two-out single drove home the first two Rockies runs. It helped to have four hits each from DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds, too.
It helped that Charlie Blackmon hit an inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning, even though it really should have been counted as a regular home run because it cleared the orange line on the center-field fence. (The umpires didn't see that.)
"As Gerardo Parra said, he hit two home runs on the same play," Black said. "And that is hard to do."
Consistent offense has been a little hard to come by for the Rockies, especially away from Coors Field. Before Sunday, they ranked 27th in the Major Leagues in team OPS in road games. Before Sunday, the Rockies had been held to three runs or fewer in 12 of their past 15 games away from home.
So the four first-inning runs were a big deal, especially after the Rockies had suffered lopsided losses to the Mets on Friday and Saturday. But as Black was quick to point out, Hoffman's three scoreless innings to begin the game were big, too.
In the first two games of the series, Rockies starters combined to pitch 2 1/3 innings while allowing 12 runs.
Hoffman admitted to some nerves. While he wasn't a Mets fan growing up in Latham, N.Y. -- he followed the Red Sox -- he had been looking forward to this game. He estimated that 30-40 family members and friends made the two-hour drive to watch him.
Hoffman also admitted he heard one voice louder than the others.
"My dad's voice carries," Hoffman said. "I've heard that voice for a long time, telling me how to play the game."
Black's voice has been an important one in his first season as manager, and his was the voice focused on the team's young pitching staff.
"Our attitude's fine," Black said. "We knew we have to pitch better. So much of the team's success this season has been built around pitching. We have got to have some solid starts."
They got exactly that from Hoffman, who made sure the game never got close even as he ended up allowing four runs in six innings. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander improved to 6-1 on the season.
It's nice when your team scores runs, especially when four of them come before you throw your first pitch.
"That was awesome," Hoffman said. "The offense has kind of struggled a little, but we knew this could happen."
Thirteen runs won't happen every day. But the state of the Rockies in the second half will depend in part on similar outbursts happening a little more often.
And on the pitching.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York who covered the Rockies on Sunday.