DENVER -- Starting pitcher Zach Lee mixed pitches and forced Rockies batters into fly ball after frustrating fly ball while leading the Padres to a 6-0 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday afternoon."Obviously, the game plan going in wasn't to give up fly balls, it was to
DENVER -- Starting pitcher Zach Lee mixed pitches and forced Rockies batters into fly ball after frustrating fly ball while leading the Padres to a 6-0 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday afternoon.
"Obviously, the game plan going in wasn't to give up fly balls, it was to get ground balls," Lee said. "We were very fortunate that a lot of those fly balls were very miss-hit."
Behind Lee, who limited the Rockies to two hits and forced eight flyball outs, the Padres handed the Rockies their first shutout of the season and won the three-game set. It was the Padres' fourth shutout at Coors Field since it opened in 1995. Just once in a three-game set had the Padres held the Rockies to fewer than the six runs they scored this week.
"The story overall was we couldn't get to their pitching, pretty much all series, when you think about it," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "They kept us off balance. Lee did that today, as did their bullpen."
The Rockies are 6-4, but are waiting on the offense. In the series against the Padres, they hit .167 (15-for-90). Defending National League batting champion DJ LeMahieu (.171), Carlos Gonzalez (.200) and Trevor Story (.129) are key hitters mired in slumps.
The Padres began with consecutive first-inning doubles by Manuel Margot and William Myers, followed by Yangervis Solarte's single. Two batters later, Ryan Schimpf parked his second homer of the season, a two-run shot, for a 4-0 lead.
"The double on the first pitch of the game kind of announced, 'Hey, we're here to hit today,'" Padres manager Andy Green said. "And Wil followed it up with a double down the right-field line, and Schimpf got the big home run. You jump out 4-0 at Coors, you never feel like it's enough runs."
Left-hander Kyle Freeland settled for the next three frames, but the Rockies offense never produced. Freeland ended up yielding six runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Didn't right the ship this time: In his Major League debut in his hometown on Friday, Freeland allowed the Dodgers to load the bases before keeping the game scoreless with a groundout. He went on to earn a win. This time, after two early doubles and the Solarte single, he forced a fly ball from Hunter Renfroe. But it only temporarily slowed the damage. Schimpf homered on a 1-1 slider.
"Nothing really went wrong," Freeland said. "They had a couple broken-bat singles that fell in. Margot jumped the fastball right out of the gate. I don't think anything went wrong, though. It was just one of those things where if two things go my way, I'm out of that inning with two runs."
In your face: Lee's final batter was a face-off with Nolan Arenado, who he had walked twice in the slugger's previous at bats. With nobody out and a man on first, Lee battled Arenado through a seven-pitch, full-count at-bat, mostly working the outside of the plate. On his fourth straight slider -- his 90th pitch of the game -- he induced a soft fly to center to end the Rockies' last threat.
"With him, we kind of came in every once in awhile with heaters," Lee said. "I was kind of pulling that slider a little bit, and today it was more cutter-ish. Even if it was starting on that outer half, it was really running off. I'd rather throw the slider in that same spot, but have more downward depth."
"I would never have guessed that Wil would hit for the cycle before he got his first walk of the season, but he did do that. He got his walk today. But the double, the single up the middle, all the way around it's hard contact all over the baseball field. When they pitched him in, he pulled the ball. When they pitched him away, he hit it the other way. One of the best series I've seen from anybody." -- Green, on Myers' 7-for-10, three-game series with two doubles, two triples, a homer, four runs, a walk, a hit by pitch, four RBIs, and the second cycle in Padres history.
"I think we got a little too big on [Lee], because he was only throwing like 89 or 90 mph. And that's why you see a lot of fly balls today, instead of just grinding it out and trying to get on and put some good innings together. By the time we opened our eyes, [Lee] was already out [of the game] and we were down 6-0. It was just an ugly game." -- Carlos Gonzalez on Lee's ability to stifle the Rockies.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The loss prevented the Rockies from winning each of their first three series of the season. They had not accomplished that feat since 1995.
Margot had nine putouts in center, one shy of a Padres record by a center fielder in a nine-inning game. Jay Payton (6/11/14 at NYY) and Gene Richards (5/21/79) each had 10. Four other Padres center fielders have had nine putouts, most recently Cameron Maybin on 8/7/12 vs the Cubs.
Austin Hedges snapped an 0-for-24 stretch to open his season, finally getting a hit off a slow grounder to Arenado that the third baseman fumbled on a barehanded pickup. Hedges dribbled one to the pitcher in his first at-bat and struck out twice in his final two at-bats, running his strikeout tally to nine.
"That's not the guy you want to hit it at, but luckily he didn't make a play today," Hedges said. "That's baseball. I don't think anything's ever going to change. You hit the ball hard, you [can't] find hits. You never know. I'm just going to try and keep having at-bats and help the team win."
"He hit so many balls so hard in the first 20-something at-bats and nothing to show for it," Green said. "Then he hits a nubber down the line, and I don't know that I've ever seen Nolan Arenado not come up with the barehand. He comes up with every single one of them. Good for him to get on the board that way, but even more importantly what he's doing behind the dish reflects in our pitchers' ERA, reflects in the way our pitchers work through a game. He is doing a tremendous job back there."
Padres: The Padres open up Atlanta's new ballpark Friday with Opening Day starter Jhoulys Chacin on the mound. After a rough first start against the Dodgers, Chacin pitched brilliantly in the home opener, pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings and allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five.
Rockies: The Rockies have won the two games started by Jon Gray (0-0, 5.79 ERA) -- Opening Day in Milwaukee and at home against the Dodgers -- but he hasn't been crisp enough to earn a decision. He will try again against the Giants at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. MT. Lefty Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 3.00) will start for the Giants.
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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Padres on Wednesday.