Koehler continues to conquer Colorado
DENVER -- Coors Field is regularly labeled a pitching graveyard, but Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler has escaped the perils in remarkable fashion.
Adding to his already impressive figures in Colorado, Koehler sprinkled eight hits and one run over seven frames, propelling the Marlins to a 6-2 win over the Rockies in Friday's series opener. Koehler walked just one and tied a season high with six strikeouts, helping the righty to his longest outing since April 25.
His Coors Field career numbers now read: 21 innings, five runs, two home runs, one walk, 17 strikeouts.
"I've just been fortunate the times I've pitched here to have really good fastball command," Koehler said. "When I have fastball command, I kind of work off that, and everything else plays up a little bit better. I think that's got a lot to do with it."
Koehler's dominance showed up from the start. He retired the Rockies' first 11 hitters, and four of his first five innings were 1-2-3 frames -- aided by a pair of nicely turned 4-6-3 double plays.
Colorado didn't pick up its first hits until the fourth, when Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez delivered back-to-back singles with two outs. Up next was the scorching-hot Nolan Arenado, but Koehler didn't panic when he fell behind, 2-0, eventually coaxing a harmless popout to first.
"That was just a gritty, tone-setting effort by him to go out and grind it the way he did," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "Just a great night by TK to execute pitch after pitch. Had his curveball and slider working early, and he set the tone right away."
Koehler's only real adversity arrived in the seventh, when he yielded three singles -- two with two outs -- to load the bases. That turned the lineup card over for leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who looked to chisel into Miami's 6-1 lead as Colorado's thumpers lurked behind him.
But Koehler's fastball command was on point, and he challenged Blackmon with three straight heaters -- the last of which generated an ending-inning groundout to second.
Just like pitching at Coors Field, sifting through the seventh was a test. And Koehler passed both.
"Sometimes you have to test their limits, and if you want guys to crawl over a certain threshold, you've got to give them the opportunity to do it," Jennings said. "And he's earned that here, and we feel very confident in him having that opportunity.
"It was a tremendous outing."