Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela had three big reasons to get down on himself after the first inning of Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. He had just surrendered three runs, allowing the Giants to wipe out an early 3-0 lead the Rockies handed Senzatela after a half-inning. That would be a recipe for combustion for many pitchers making just their third big league start, but not Senzatela.
“A lot of young pitchers would have been extremely dejected and let that affect them the rest of the way, but he didn’t. He notched that belt another notch or two and got it done,” Rockies manager Bud Black said following the game.
After allowing three runs on three hits in the opening frame, Senzatela scattered four hits over the next six-plus innings, not allowing a run, to help lead Colorado to a 4-3 victory and their first-ever four-game series win in San Francisco. Senzatela struck out three and walked none to earn his second victory in three starts. Colorado is 3-0 in games Senzatela has started in 2017.
Not only was Black impressed with his young starter’s mental toughness to put the bad inning behind him, he was also pleased to see that the 22-year-old seemed to get better as the game wore on.
“I really thought that he was throwing the ball better late in the game than he was earlier. You know, I thought pitch 60 to 90 was some of his better stuff. That’s a good sign; that’s encouraging,” Black said.
Not only was Senzatela battling one of the projected contenders for the NL West crown in the Giants, he was also battling the elements. A steady rain left the field extremely wet pregame, and drizzle continued to fall throughout the course of the afternoon. As the day wore on, those infamous San Francisco winds kicked up and made things even more interesting.
“I really like how he hung in there through the adverse weather conditions early in the game – and even late in the game it started getting a little blustery as well – but he pitched an outstanding game,” Black said.
Senzatela’s success came in part by pounding the strike zone, working ahead in counts and forcing ground balls on the rainy, blustery day. The rookie threw 60 of 94 pitches for strikes, and started 18 of the 27 hitters he faced with a first-pitch strike. Eleven of the 18 outs he recorded were ground balls.
Senzatela and the Rockies bullpen also got some help from the defense. Carlos Gonzalez made a diving catch with a runner on base to end the game. DJ LeMahieu made several key defensive plays including starting an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the eighth. And Tony Wolters made the play of the day to end the sixth inning and save a potential game-tying run.
“Oh my gosh, yeah, the last play of the game. DJ, you know, a couple big plays. Tony, that little shovel, that was a tough play. Man, those were big plays,” Black said.
The Rockies enjoyed a well-earned day off Monday after starting the season with 14 consecutive games. They are in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday for a short series with the Dodgers before returning home to face those same Giants in a three-game series this weekend at Coors Field. Senzatela is slated to start the Saturday game opposite Matt Moore, whom he faced Sunday.