When it comes to playing the Padres at Coors Field the last few seasons, there’s one Rockies starting pitcher that you don’t have to worry about.
Unfortunately, without a complete game from Antonio Senzatela and his career 2.70 ERA against San Diego, the bullpen could not handle the final six outs.
But before Rockies fans pulled out the final strand of hair from atop their collective head, a ninth-inning rally punctuated by a pinch-hit single from Daniel Murphy gave Colorado the first walk-off winner of the season in a 4-3 victory.
Senzatela was the unequivocal difference for much of the game as seven scoreless innings paced the purple to down the brown in the early going before Carlos Estévez coughed up three earned runs in the top of the eighth.
The 25-year-old righty did a good job of inducing ground balls (11-to-3 ground outs to fly outs) and making the Padres lineup look less than stellar, something impossibly for most pitchers in 2020.
There was also no shortage of dependable defensive highlights as three double plays and a clutch, athletic play by Tony Wolters staved off the only run-scoring opportunity the Friars had against Senzatela.
Excluding a run in the third sparked by a leadoff double from Josh Fuentes and an RBI-single by Trevor Story, the bulk of the scoring took place in consecutive half innings.
Following back-to-back single in the bottom of the seventh inning, a four-seam fastball was misplayed by catcher Luis Torrens and the fresh-legged pinch-runner Brendan Rodgers scurried down to third base.
Garrett Hampson followed with an infield single that clanked off the bag and put ahead Colorado 2-0. Raimel Tapia included a two-out single and the Rockies looked set to even up the series with the three-run lead.
Immediately thereafter, Estévez walked Fernando Tatis Jr. before a single by Manny Machado, double from Jake Cronenworth and single from Wil Myers erased the edge Senzatela helped create.
Player of the Game: Antonio Senzatela – 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
After surrendering four home runs – he had never even given up more than one on the road before – in his last start at Los Angeles, Senza did incredibly well to keep the ball on the ground from one of the hottest hitting clubs in baseball.
He was hit hard at times, but it typically traveled directly to his defenders who turned three double plays on the night.
Moment of the Game: Kemp lifted for pinch runner
Luck is a residue of design and Bud Black’s blueprint was exceptional in the seventh inning.
Matt Kemp and Ryan McMahon slashed consecutive singles to start the frame before Black called upon Brendan Rodgers to pinch run for the aging veteran at second base. Thus began the fall of dominoes that aided in two more runs.
Defensive Gems: Outfielders double up at first base
When Charlie Blackmon caught a line drive off the bat of Trent Grisham in the third inning and fired to first baseman Josh Fuentes to double off Luis Torrens, it looked like the early pick for defensive play of the game.
Only an inning later, Grisham returned the favor on a fly ball from Arenado. With Story digging deep for second on the pitch, he had a long way to get back to first base before Grisham unleashed a fantastic throw to narrowly beat Story. Not only did the outfield assist remove the runner on first base, it came before Wolters was able to cross home plate on the tag up, erasing a critical run.
- San Diego had won nine of their last 11 games entering Saturday night following a season-long, five-game losing streak from Aug. 12-16.
- Going into the game, Senzatela’s .875 winning percentage against
the Padres (7-1, 13 games – seven starts) ranks fourth among all active pitchers (min. 50 IP).
- Senza is just as good at Coors Field in seven games – four starts – against San Diego: 5-0 with a 3.19 ERA (31.0 IP, 11 ER).
- Murphy recorded his sixth career walk-off RBI (last: May 30, 2019 vs. Arizona) and his first career walk-off RBI as a pinch hitter.
- Saturday was the first pinch-hit walk-off RBI by a Rockies player since Daniel Descalso’s walk-off RBI single vs. San Diego in 2016.
- Raimel Tapia went 2-for-5 in the game. After starting the season 2-for-16, has started 16 of the Rockies’ last 17 games since Aug. 11, batting .362/.464/.448 with one double, two triples and seven RBI.