Coming into 2020, Antonio Senzatela was the most pivotal pitcher for the franchise if the Colorado Rockies were going to contend for a place in the postseason.
While the rest of the club has had varying success to the tune of 18-23 in starts by the remainder of the rotation, Senzatela has delivered on that make-or-break season.
The 25-year-old grew stronger as the game continued on Wednesday in Colorado’s 3-1 victory, his second excellent performance of the year against the AL West leading Oakland Athletics.
He threw a season-high 109 pitches and got enough support from his defense, namely Garrett Hampson, that he was able to extend his start to the full nine.
It’s quite fitting for Senzatela to share his success on this night with his battery mate and countryman, Elias Díaz.
It’s been a staggered season for a player who seemingly made the 26-man roster after the first week of Spring Training, then was sidelined to start Summer Camp and later punished for breaking health and safety protocol.
In only his seventh start of 2020 behind the plate, Díaz showed precisely his heights as a batter, not to mention as a receiver.
The 29-year-old backstop hit a laser over the left field wall measured at 109.6mph to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning. It was just the first home run by a catcher donning purple this season.
Player of the Game: Senzatela – 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Early in the game, Senza got himself into a few jams and appeared to destined for a six-inning, quality start. Then, he began to cruise with a seven-pitch fifth-inning and was backed by an offense that provided three runs in the next two frames.
He got a whopping 14 ground ball outs and produced his third and final strikeout of the evening on pitch No.104, his fastest of the night at 96.7mph, to strike out Mark Canha in the ninth.
The low strikeout numbers aside, it was one of the better performances in Rockies recent history as Senzatela’s complete game was the first at Coors Field since Jon Gray’s 16 strikeout performance on September 17, 2016.
Moment of the Game: Fuentes sacrifice fly produces run
Nolan Arenado and Kevin Pillar swatted consecutive singles to open the sixth against A’s starter Sean Manaea in the highly-contested 2-1 game. Following a fielder’s choice off the bat of Matt Kemp that put runners on the corners for Josh Fuentes.
Following a double and single in his first two at-bats, the 27-year-old rookie put a charge into a 79mph changeup by Manaea that was more than deep enough to score his cousin from third base to give Colorado some insurance.
Defensive Gem: Hampson all glove in phenomenal double play
At 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, players can contribute on the other side of the ball and this is precisely what Hampson had in mind when Jonah Heim slapped a ground ball up the middle with a runner on first base.
Not only did Hampson lay out for the ball, but he also managed to flip the ball to Trevor Story before his torso made impact with the ground. By the time the ball reached first base to complete the 4-6-3 twin killing, Heim was out by five steps.
Hampson immediately got an opportunity to balance the ledger to start the bottom of the seventh with a bunt single, his MLB-leading sixth of the season.
- Senzatela ranks ninth with 30 wins coming into tonight among all active Venezuelan pitchers and is third behind Germán Márquez (40) and Jhoulys
Chacín (38) on the Rockies’ career list.
- After a demotion to Triple-A on July 21, Senzatela is 4-0 with a 3.16 ERA (37.0 IP, 13 ER) over his past six home starts, including 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA (19.0 IP, 6 ER) in three games in 2020 entering the night.