The best starting rotation in MLB – according to earned run average (2.00) through the opening 11 days of the season – turned to their No.5 starter for the first time and were not exactly rewarded.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

In another example of their temerity, the Rockies came back from a 4-1 deficit after managing only three hits against Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto.

Thanks in part to their leader, Nolan Arenado, coming out the park to take early batting practice, staying patient at the plate and working through his early season slump, he led via example.

“I don’t hit Cueto very well,” the star third baseman said post-game after a clutch home run against his nemesis to put Colorado within one and lead a five-run rally from which San Francisco couldn’t recover.

While the ninth-inning may have been anxiety provoking, there were positives throughout the night, especially the bullpen, and a 7-6 win heals all wounds.

Player of the Game: Middle-Inning Monsters

The quartet of Phillip Diehl, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Kinley, and Carlos Estévez bailed out starting pitcher Chi Chi González with five innings of one-run baseball. Both Diehl and Hoffman made their season debut and didn’t disappoint with two strikeouts in over an inning of work.

Honorable Mention: Chris Owings

The left fielder went 2-for-4 and provided two decisive runs: he scored from first base on a routine single thanks to an error and head’s up running; his eighth-inning solo home run provided an insurance run that became the difference in the one-run game.

Turning Point: Arenado sparks comeback, makes history

It was only a matter of time until Colorado’s all-world third baseman caught fire and hit his first long ball of the season. Down 4-1 in the sixth, Arenado blasted a Cueto fastball 430ft for a two-run shot that reduced the lead to one.

Rockies responded with three more runs in the inning thanks to a triple by Ryan McMahon and consecutive singles by Matt Kemp and Chris Owings to flip the lead in their favor, 6-4.

Defensive Moment: Story’s athleticism thwarts Giants’ big inning

At the time, the solid play by Colorado’s shortstop was simply a combination of athleticism and wherewithal. On an Evan Longoria ground ball to his right, Story made a diving stop to prevent Alex Dickerson from scoring from second. Not to be outdone, he made a throw from his knees to get the force out Dickerson at third base with Arenado stretching to make the grab.

The special play was key primarily due to its timeliness as it came following the Giants’ three runs on starter González and helped prevent even more scoring.

Diamond Details

  • Arenado’s sixth-inning home run gave the Silver Slugger a career total of 228 and broke the tie with Carlos González for fourth all-time on the Rockies
  • Cueto entered Monday night 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA in eight career starts at Coors Field. He made it through Colorado’s lineup twice relatively unscathed – one unearned run – but it was the third time through the lineup that spotted the near quality start.
  • With González giving up three earned runs, it snaps a streak of 12 games in which Rockies starters have allowed two or fewer earned runs that dates back to Sept. 25 of last season at San Francisco.
  • McMahon continues to struggle at the plate between contributions. Three more strikeouts give him 16 on the season in 33 at bats. Only Ronald Acuña Jr (18) and Fernando Tatis Jr (17) had more coming into Monday night.