Takeaways from another quiet outing from Rockies’ lineup

Mar 31, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies four-game slate to open the 2019 season featured a direct dichotomy in showings for both their wins and losses.

In the wins for the visitors, they were able to garner several long at-bats, utilizing their abundance of pitches seen to key their mid-inning outbursts. The loses showed a team pushing to register runs, falling peril to a lack of discipline.

The Rockies made it interesting, tallying a pair of baserunners in the final inning, but were unable to complete the three-run comeback.

Now 2-2 on the year after a 3-0 loss, the Rockies will head to Tampa Bay before returning to Coors Field for their home opener. Ahead are the takeaways in the concluding game of their stay at Marlins Park.

Lazy Sunday for the bats at Marlins Park

The Rockies’ bats decided to take a break in the final game of their four-game opening series.

As a team, the Rockies hit .176/.265/.256 last year at Marlins Park, with the final two games of their opening 2019 series continuing the trend.

In the series, the battery of the visitors finished with 33 hits and 15 runs. Their run total came almost exclusively in the series’ first two games in which they tallied six apiece.

While part of the blame lies in a lack of prior at-bats against both Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara, a larger portion belongs on poor at-bats in the latter half of the slate.

The Rockies struck out 12 times combined in the series’ first two games, followed by 21 combined in the final two. Among their leaders, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and David Dahl combined to go 12-for-47 in the series. 

Marlins Park has long been one of the worst parks for the franchises’ bats, a trend that resurfaced yet again over the weekend.

The Gray Wolf may have his howl back

For the Marlins’ first at-bat of the day against the embattled Jon Gray, Rosell Herrera took a pitch off his back foot. The pain Gray inflicted the remainder of the game harshly rivaled the hit by pitch.

Gray’s two-run fourth inning notwithstanding, he was largely dominant, striking out 10 hitters in his 6.2 innings, the 13th double-digit whiff performance of his career. He allowed only five hits in the bout and walked only one outside of the Herrera HBP.

During the offseason, Gray returned to his dosage of weight lifting, including a renewed reliance on deadlifting, allowing him to gain back the weight he lost last year. The regimen included sessions at Driveline to correct his mechanical mistakes, resulting in a vintage performance.

A problem for much of last year, Gray did allow another home run in his final inning of work, tying the Rockies’ franchise record for consecutive games allowing a long ball (13).

Overall, the start was indicative of the upside offered by Gray, along with the woes he can commonly endure. As a fourth starter though, it’s hard to ask for much more than he can offer.

Alcantara’s heat yields little traffic

With the shadows of midday Miami backing his charge, Alcantara pounded the strike zone en route to making quick work of the Rockies’ order.

For the second consecutive game, the Rockies fell prey to a starting pitcher with little prior experience. With minimal exposure came a lack of scouting of Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, a deficiency that reared its head often.

Alcantara used a mid-to-high 90’s fastball and his wipeout slider to throw eight scoreless innings. In the first frame alone, he threw six of his seven pitches at 95 miles per hour or higher. His line also included six strikeouts without a single walk after the youngster struggled mightily with walks last year (23 in 34 innings).

Along with his zero in the walks column, Alcantara only allowed one 3-0 count in his entire outing. 

The sixth stanza for Alcantara took less than three minutes and only 11 pitches to complete, further exemplifying the succinct ways of the flamethrower as part of his 14 consecutive hitters retired at the latter part of his outing.

Murphy’s injury changes things

From the initial lineup card on Saturday following the game-two injury of Daniel Murphy, changes were in order to compensate for his ailment.

On Sunday, those changes included Mark Reynolds entering the starting lineup in Murphy’s stead. Ryan McMahon was tasked with taking over for the Rockies’ biggest offseason addition on Saturday, Garrett Hampson at second.

If the first two days said anything, it’s that Bud Black is going to try several recipes for the batting order.

In the two days, both McMahon and Reynolds combined to go 4-for-12, performing adequately in the field. Hampson always tallied a hit in his start, adding a highlight reel play to his 2019 resume.

All of the possible replacements for Murphy offer something different. McMahon offers youth and added speed, though not egregious, while Reynolds offers slightly more pop. Hampson’s inclusion also adds speed to the order.

While no perfect combination exists, look for the club to attempt to find a combination that gets close.