Rockies ride the wave of Jon Gray against Blue Jays, extend winning spree

Jun 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) throws during the first inning of game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Winning has become a habit for the Colorado Rockies, a statement that was a fallacy in their franchise-worst start.

Against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, the Rockies once again extended their winning streak, now at a season-high seven games, in their 4-2 victory. The effort brought their homestand record to 8-1. With one more victory, they will tie their best homestand in franchise history (9-1 in 2009).

Ahead are takeaways from the triumph.

Rockies take advantage of Jay’s first-inning woes

In the midst of a six-game road trip to both Tampa Bay and Colorado, the Blue Jays have yet to garner success on the mound in the inaugural frame.

The Rockies tacked on four runs in the first game, adding to their total with three in the latest contest. In their latest attempt, the hosts registered four consecutive hits after a Raimel Tapia groundout. 

Blue Jays’ pitchers have now pitched to a 14.40 earned run average in the first inning alone during their trip, with their starters averaging 27.4 pitches. Marcus Stroman had 30. 

For the Rockies’ lineup in the early going, scoring in the first was nearly impossible. They failed to tally a single run in the first stanza in each of their first 17 games. Since then, the results have been a complete reversal.

Including their opening cold spell, the Rockies have scored 49 first-inning runs in 57 games. That season total is tied for the most in any frame with their second-inning tally. Coincidentally, they didn’t score a single run in the second frame until their 16th game.

Gray Wolf executes his best hunt yet

German Marquez and Kyle Freeland were supposed to be the proverbial ‘aces’ for a Rockies’ club looking to reach the postseason yet again. Jon Gray has since given the preseason doubters a chance to rethink things.

The former Oklahoma standout had another lockdown outing for the club, going 6.2 innings before being pulled. During his last start, a blister began to form on Gray’s throwing hand. After another inspection by Bud Black in the seventh frame, it looks to still be a problem.

A scattered second inning was the only blemish for the flamethrower. Pitch after pitch, Gray executed. He allowed hitters to slap nine grounders to the rock-solid infield behind him, striking out seven amidst his 25 batters faced.

In all, he allowed two hits in the game and walked three, two coming after the finger ailment appeared to be nagging him in his final inning of work.

Gray’s ERA for the year continued it’s descent to 4.11 after his latest nod. If held through the year, his run allowance would be the second-lowest of his five-year career.

Scouts get a long look at possible trade piece

The Rockies and Blue Jays have worked multiple deals in recent years. Seunghwan Oh was acquired at the trade deadline last year from the club up north, with Troy Tulowitzki being shipped across the border in 2015.

With starter Marcus Stroman reportedly on the trading block, a deal could be in play yet again.

The Rockies’ rotation has struggled. Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland were both dismissed to Triple-A Albuquerque, while Jeff Hoffman and Antonio Senzatela have been erratic.

Stroman twirled seven frames and only allowed three runs in front of the club’s front office and scouts alike, with his athleticism on full display. The veteran also garnered 12 ground-ball outs to only two flyouts. 

Rumors have yet to surface on the Rockies truly seeking a deal, but his latest start gave them a first-hand look at his aptitude at altitude.

Streaks continue for red-hot hitters 

The month of May was extremely kind to the Rockies.

They scored 183 runs, tied for the fourth-most in a single month in franchise history en route to going 16-10 and climbing back into the National League playoff hunt.

Leading the way was a familiar face and a blossoming star in Nolan Arenado and Raimel Tapia, respectively. The two continued their hot-hitting ways in the latest win.

A first-inning, run-scoring single extended Arenado’s hitting streak to 12 games, the longest of the 2019 campaign for the perennial All-Star. Tapia, in far more electric fashion, reached home to extend his career-high spree to 11 games:

Though the hit was counted as a double and a pair of errors, the hit was the second time Tapia has reached home without leaving the ballpark this year. The other was an inside-the-park home run against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Aggression is taught by Black and the rest of the Rockies’ coaching staff. Speed like Tapia’s is the one thing they can’t teach.