Rockies earn opening day win

Jeffrey Phelps, The Associated Press

In one big inning, the Brewers went from being down by four to up by one and got Jon Gray pulled in only the fifth inning. Despite Gray’s early exit, he still struck out seven and had a strong first four innings. Things fell apart in the fifth when five straight batters reached base, four on hits, and sent four runs to the plate. Gray exited for Scott Oberg who allowed one more run on a double, credited to Gray, before the Rockies could get out of the inning.

Fortunately for the Rockies, the bullpen came in and had a strong outing as a whole allowing no runs over the final four innings. Carlos Estevez, Mike Dunn, Adam Ottavino, and Greg Holland held the Brewers hitless (although they did allow four walks) and kept them off the board. Holland earned his first save of the year on a stellar double play started by Arenado and the Rockies came out with a 7-5 win.

The Rockies offense was already in midseason form, though it was the bottom half that came through in the clutch. They scored their first two runs of the game when Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer to left. Parra and Reynolds came through for more two runs in the fourth inning to give the Rockies their four run lead that would eventually disappear.

After the Brewers took a 5-4 lead, the Rockies came back in the seventh to regain the lead. With some poor defensive play by the Brewers, the Rockies were able to push two runs across that would give them the eventual win.

It certainly wasn’t the easiest win the Rockies will have all year, and making the bullpen work this hard everyday will make for a long season, but it is a good way to start the season and give the Rockies some positive momentum as they go into the second game of the series.

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Series Preview: Rockies vs. Brewers

Monday, April 3rd 12:10pm: Jon Gray (0-0 0.00) vs. Junior Guerra (0-0 0.00)

A 32-year old second year player and a 25-year old budding star take the mound for these teams’ opening days. Gray, the budding star, will make his first opening day start for the Rockies and try to start his 2017 year off with a bang. Junior Guerra on the other hand, will be making his first major league opening day start, and at the age of 32. Guerra has jumped all around the international leagues and finally finds himself making an appearance in the bigs. at the start of the year for the Brewers. Opening day holds many surprises, so this game will just be one to watch.

Tuesday, April 4th 5:40pm: Tyler Anderson (0-0 0.00) vs. Zach Davies (0-0 0.00)

Both of these sophomore pitchers will try and build off of successful 2016 rookie years. Davies 11-7 with an ERA just under 4.00 for the Brew Crew and Anderson went 5-6 with an ERA of 3.54. Both of these pitchers should find themselves as part of the future of their teams with how they pitched last year, and with good campaigns this year, they could both develop as front of the rotation starters.

Wednesday, April 5th 6:10pm: Tyler Chatwood (0-0 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0 0.00)

Tlyer Chatwood will try and continue his road success from 2016 on Wednesday. Chatwood was absolutely terrific, especially in the first half, when pitching away from Coors Field. While it was good to see, Chatwood will need to pitch better at home for him to really find himself as a reliable starter. But for the time being, a solid start on Wednesday could bring the Rockies a step closer to a possible four game sweep of the Brewers.

Thursday, April 6th 11:40am: Antonio Senzatela (0-0 0.00) vs. Chase Anderson (0-0 0.00)

Senzatela makes his first major league start on Thursday to wrap up the series. With injury troubles from others and a sold spring from Senzatela, he earned himself the fourth rotation spot amongst some stiff competition. He will face off against a pitcher the Rockies are familiar with, Chase Anderson, as he used to play for the Dbacks. The Rockies have had mixed success in the past against Anderson, with both Arenado and Blackmon taking him deep, four and two times respectively. This game will wrap up the series and while it would be great to see the Rockies sweep, they should definitely come out with at least two wins and probably three.

The Best Day of the Year

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Today is opening day and tomorrow the Rockies open up their 2017 season. For what seems like the first time in a long time, the Rockies start with more positives than negatives, at least that’s the way it felt before the injury trouble. With Ian Desmond, David Dahl, Tom Murphy, Chad Bettis, and Chris Rusin all on the shelf to start the season, the Rockies come out of spring with an already depleted lineup and staff.

There is still a lot to look forward to though and that will keep fans engaged through the first month. Can Trevor Story pick up where he left off? Will the Rockies young staff pitch as they are expected to? Will the bullpen additions be enough or will it be the reason for missing the playoffs? There are certainly things to keep an eye on and the biggest has to be the starting staff.

With Jon Gray opening up the year and poised to break out as an ace, the Rockies may finally have developed a pitcher that can lead a staff to greatness. Along with Gray, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, and rookies Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela, will try and create success. The ceiling for all of these young pitchers is high, but with high ceilings come struggles that can plague a young staff. If the pitchers can exceed the expectations that come along with young guys, the Rockies may very well have a good change at and in the playoffs.

The lineup is almost certainly going to produce. With guys like Blackmon and LeMahieu at the top, and the power trio of Cargo, Arenado, and Story in the middle, there will be lots of runs, home runs, RBIs, and hits. Hitting on the road will be the biggest key for the Rockies as they normally do well at home, but can be cursed with downward steaks away from Coors.

The Rockies play early tomorrow with an afternoon game. Jon Gray takes the mound against first time big leaguer Junior Guerra. This should be a win for the Rockies, but opening day holds surprises for everyone.

Opening Day 2016: Season Story Lines

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It is FINALLY here! Opening day for the Colorado Rockies, like a spring Christmas, this is my favorite holiday of the year. And while the Rockies may not be a playoff contender, the early season allows for an optimism that can only be granted by someone who enjoyed 21 wins out of 22 games in 2007. That World Series run was more a curse than a blessing as it has always made me believe in the impossible. But at least it makes every game more fun for a team that is a perennial bottom dweller.

The 2016 season will start with this same optimism, that I can be sure of. With players like Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and the exciting young new shortstop Trevor Story, the Rockies will surely not be short on offense. As they always do, the Rockies will be in the top five teams in the National League for runs scored, home runs, average, slugging percentage, and a plethora of other offensive categories. If there is one thing you can count on, it is plenty of high scoring games coming at 20th and Blake.

The thing that always holds the Rockies down is pitching. Whether it be the starters going only 5 innings and giving up 5+ runs, or the bullpen blowing a late inning lead, or just a combination of the two leading to an insurmountable lead that even the top offense can’t overcome, this year may show some different things. The Rockies have established an early season change in the philosophy of the team. This year didn’t see them go out in the offseason and pick up some “veteran” starter to “lead” the pitching staff. No, this year the staff is filled with competitors who weren’t guaranteed spots and who aren’t veterans in the league. Yes, there is Jorge De La Rosa who is the veteran on this staff, but De La doesn’t need to learn how to pitch at Coors like every other pitcher who is brought in. De La already knows how to pitch here and he has established himself as a consistent competitor at home. The rest of the staff is filled with players with varying years of playing time, but these players all have upside and have shown that upside in spurts. Tyler Chatwood put up a sub 3.50 ERA in 2013 before getting injured, Chad Bettis came out and showed he could pitch really well last year despite a terrible previous two years, Jordan Lyles will get a chance to show what he can really do and despite some bad years with Houston, he has pitched well for the Rockies when healthy. And lastly, Jon Gray, the possible future ace of this staff. While he will start on the DL, when he comes off, he could be the Rockies ticket to competing in the post season this year. If he pitches like the Rockies believe he can, there is reason for hope for more Rocktober baseball.

The bullpen is also reason for hope. The Rockies have spent a lot of time finding young, hard throwing relievers who can rack up the Ks. With players like Miguel Castro, Jake McGee, and Justin Miller, the Rockies will have a solid back end of the bullpen. This will only get better through the year as these players, either new or young, continue to develop their own styles and learn the proper way to pitch at a mile high. There is also the two relievers who are currently on the disabled list that will be strong spots. Jason Motte and Adam Ottavino are both on the DL, and while Ottavino will be on quite a bit longer, they are both pieces that are end of the game type guys who can help the Rockies seal the game shut. The bullpen is an important part at Coors field and guys coming in who can shut the other team down are important. The Rockies starters have to do their job and get through 6+ innings consistently for the bullpen to not lose their arms by July/August.

Of course, even with everything going right for the Rockies, they are going to need luck with the rest of the division and league. The Dodgers and Giants are always competing for playoffs and are likely to do that again this year. There is also the rebuilt Arizona Diamondbacks who are a scary team this year. Losing AJ Pollock was a start of the luck that the Rockies needed, and although I would never wish harm on another player, every big name injury that happens on these three teams give the Rockies a better shot. The Wild Card is almost certainly out of the question with too may good teams fighting for the spots available, so if the Rockies are to sneak into the playoffs, winning in the division and at home are going to be completely necessary.

Now for predictions for who will make the playoffs:

NL West (Rockies bias showing): 1st Colorado Rockies 2nd Los Angeles Dodgers 3rd San Francisco Giants 4th Arizona Diamondbacks 5th San Diego Padres

NL West (Realistic guess): 1st Los Angeles Dodgers 2nd Arizona Diamondbacks 3rd San Francisco Giants 4th Colorado Rockies 5th San Diego Padres

NL Central: 1st Chicago Cubs 2nd Pittsburg Pirates 3rd St. Louis Cardinals 4th Cincinnati Reds 5th Milwaukee Brewers

NL East: 1st Washington Nationals 2nd New York Mets 3rd Miami Marlins 4th Philadelphia Phillies 5th Atlanta Braves

Wild Card: Pirates and Mets

AL West: 1st Houston Astros 2nd Seattle Mariners 3rd Texas Rangers 4th Los Angeles Angels 5th Oakland A’s

AL Central: 1st Kansas City Royals 2nd Detroit Tigers 3rd Chicago White Sox 4th Cleveland Indians 5th Minnesota Twins

AL West:  1st Toronto Blue Jays 2nd Boston Red Sox 3rd New York Yankees 4th Tampa Bay Rays 5th Baltimore Orioles

Wild Card: Yankees and Red Sox

World Series game: Houston Astros vs Chicago Cubs

Winner Chicago Cubs will win the World Series this year for the first time in 1908. There is no team more deserving of this win and the Cubbies are just a fantastic and talented team. With Joe Maddon at the helm at the talent they have scattered throughout the lineup and staff, this team is scary and I look forward to their playoff run and hopeful World Series win.