Season Turnaround? Gray Makes Statement
Having faced the minimum 10 batters over the first 3 1/3 innings against the Padres on Wednesday afternoon, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray walked Padres second baseman Carlos Asuaje, and gave up a single to Wil Myers.
The moment of reckoning had come for Gray. In an April marred by his inability to put a mid-game scoring threat down, Gray never blinked. First he struck out Padres cleanup hitter Franchy Cordero, who initially worked the count to 3-1, and then he got Chase Headley to fly out to left.
End of inning.
No damage done.
"That is something I can work off the next time," said Gray. "It's going to make be better. when the situation happens again."
It is what the Rockies have been looking for from the right-hander, who has been given the start on the past two Opening Days, and was the pitcher the organization turned to to start the one-game wild-card showdown last October against the D-Backs.
The end result? The Rockies celebrated a 5-2 victory against the Padres, giving them their first series victory of the season at Coors Field,and built upon the foundation of six shutout innings from Gray, who faced just 20 batters, thanks to a pair of Padres being thrown out attempting to steal a base. It was the 11th time in Gray's career in which he has not allowed a run, the fifth time against the Padres, including each of the last three.
But this was more than winning a game. This was what the Rockies hope will be a foundation for the resurgence of Gray, who came into the game with just one win in his five previous starts and an unsightly 7.09 ERA.
"I know that situation will happen again, and things will get tough again, but the more times I break through it, and the faster I do, I think it's going to help me get back on track the next time," Gray said.
It is about limiting, if not eliminating damage, a challenge Gray has struggled to meet in previous starts. Oh, he did have a win, 5-2 against these same Padres in San Diego back on April 4, his second start of the season. But he also suffered a 7-6 loss to the Padres five days later at Coors Field when he gave up seven runs in five innings, includuing a four-run fourth, punctuated by fellow pitcher Clayton Richard delivering a three-run home run.
Not this time, though. Only once in his six innings of work did a Padres batter even get past first base -- Asuaje on that Meyers single in the fourth. This time Gray faced the minimum of three batters in five of the six innings he pitched. This time he struck out 11, the ninth time he has struck out 10 or more batters in a game, and the fourth time he struck out at least 11 -- all four against the Padres.
This time, manager Bud Black said, he created a foudnation to build on in the future.
"That's some things we talked to Jon about," said Black. "He bent but he didn't break. The way Jon shut them down was good to see. Good for him."
Gray's Game-By-Game Turning Points
|March 29 at Arizona||4+||6||3||3||3||4||Loss, 8-2|
|Turning point: 3-run 1st; Jake Lamb 2-run single|
|April 4 at San Diego||7||4||0||0||0||7||Win, 5-2|
|Turning point: Spangenberg 2B bottom 5th; only runner in scoring position|
|April 9 vs. San Diego||5||10||7||7||1||6||Loss, 7-6|
|Turning point: 5-run rally 5th started with 2 out, nobody on base|
|April 14 at Washington||5.2||8||5||5||1||6||Loss, 6-2|
|Turning point: 4-run 6th keyed by 2-run double Sierra|
|April 20 vs. Chicago (NL)||5||8||7||5||3||1||Loss, 6-5|
|Turning point: 7-run 6th Russell single; Heyward triple, bullpen take over|
|April 25 vs. San Diego||6||3||0||0||1||11||Won, 5-2|
|Turning point: 1 out 4th, two on, Cordero strike out; Headley fly out|