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Shaw's escape act not enough in 10-inning loss

@oapostrophesd
September 8, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Bryan Shaw made his 600th Major League appearance Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. It couldn’t have come soon enough. It had been five long days since Shaw allowed a lead over the Dodgers to disappear on back-to-back homers. Starting pitchers are conditioned to forget about

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Bryan Shaw made his 600th Major League appearance Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. It couldn’t have come soon enough.

It had been five long days since Shaw allowed a lead over the Dodgers to disappear on back-to-back homers. Starting pitchers are conditioned to forget about a bad outing and focus a few days ahead on the next opportunity, but relievers champ at the bit to get back out there as soon as possible.

Rockies manager Bud Black, however, waited until Sunday to signal for Shaw. And it’s not like Black was holding off for a low-leverage situation to ease the veteran back into action. Though the Padres won, 2-1, on Wil Myers’ walk-off single in the 10th inning, Shaw got a key out to keep things deadlocked earlier in the game.

Box score

With the score tied at 1 in the sixth, the Rockies’ first reliever, DJ Johnson, pitched into a bases-loaded jam with a single, a walk and a hit by pitch. With two outs, Shaw got the call to face pinch-hitter Austin Allen.

Shaw may have had five days to think about his previous outing, but he went to work Sunday as if it had never happened. He threw four straight cut fastballs to the left-handed-hitting Allen to record an inning-ending strikeout.

“We wanted to pound him in a little bit, try to get weak contact,” Shaw said. “When we got ahead in the count, I wanted to execute up in the zone, and I was able to do it.”

Shaw followed up with a scoreless seventh against the top of the Padres’ lineup. That inning ended with a strikeout of Eric Hosmer, no small feat considering Hosmer had reached base in half of his 16 previous plate appearances against Shaw.

Shaw fed his old adversary a changeup, two cutters and a slider before Hosmer swung through the third cutter of the at-bat.

“I’ve thrown everything at him before, and he’s gotten me a few times,” Shaw said. “And I’ve gotten him a few times. It’s always a battle. Same as the [sixth] inning, I’m trying to execute the pitches.”

It was strong a bounce-back outing for Shaw after the happenings at Dodger Stadium five days earlier. He came into that game with the Rockies holding a 2-0 lead in the seventh. He left the mound that same inning with Colorado down, 4-2, having yielded home runs to Russell Martin and David Freese.

Black, who had some relief outings during his 15-year big league career, knows relievers want to pitch again quickly after a bad outing. But with the bullpen now featuring 14 pitchers, there are only so many innings to go around. Plus, Black said, Shaw is a veteran who is unnerved by little.

“I don’t worry about that with him,” Black said. “Bryan has pitched pretty well over the last month or so. There have been a couple hiccups in there, but the ball is coming out well, as far as velocity and movement. He feels strong, which is great this time of year. He’s a pro. He’s been down this path before. It looks like he’s getting stronger, which is a great thing.”

Shaw took the wait in stride.

“Not a big deal,” Shaw said. “We can throw bullpen [sessions] in between games, if we need to. We all adapt to being in September. Every team calls up a few guys. We know how to keep ourselves fresh and ready to go.”

The Rockies have lost 15 of their last 17 games, but the pitching staff has shown signs of improvement. The starting pitchers had a 4.55 ERA in the latest turn through the rotation, more than a run better than their season ERA of 5.99. And the bullpen hadn’t allowed a run in the three-game series at San Diego until Myers connected for the game-winning single off Yency Almonte to bring home Manny Machado from second base.

Jesus Tinoco issued a four-pitch walk to Machado to start the rally, and Sam Howard walked Hosmer on four pitches in a lefty-lefty matchup to precede Myers’ hit.

“We pitched pretty well,” Black said. “The last inning wasn’t ideal -- walk, walk, then fastball elevated. But there were some encouraging signs from a few guys.”

Rockies starter Peter Lambert held the Padres to one run on five hits and three walks in five innings while striking out four. It was a solid bounce-back outing for Lambert, who allowed six runs and 11 baserunners in 1 2/3 innings in his previous start Monday against the Dodgers.

Lambert had only one clean inning -- his last one. But he started with a seven-pitch first inning when his defense put an early end to the frame with a dazzling play. After Nick Martini singled, Machado smashed a grounder up the middle. Shortstop Trevor Story made a diving stop to his left and flipped the ball from his glove to second baseman Pat Valaika, who made a quick pivot and throw to complete the double play.

“Oh man, that was awesome,” Black said. “Trevor’s been doing that all year.”

Shaun O'Neill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @oapostrophesd.