A bullpen bummer
Shouse's five no-hit innings wasted as Billings rallies
Blake Shouse played third base at Middle Georgia College and then came in to close out games on the mound.
He was a one-inning guy, but he’s used to getting outs.
When the Colorado Rockies drafted him, they saw him as a potential starter, so slowly but surely he’s building up his stamina for the Grand Junction Rockies.
Tuesday night, the Rockies saw what he can do.
Shouse threw five no-hit innings, walking only two batters in his longest outing of the year.
The bullpen, though, couldn’t close the deal despite having a 4-0 lead, giving up six runs over the final four innings in a 6-4 loss to the Billings Mustangs.
“His best outing, definitely,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “He came out and showed us something, threw strikes and had them off.
“I just wish we could let his pitch count go a little higher right there because he was rolling. Then they get those bunts and swinging hits, and it tumbled down from there.”
Shouse, who hit .309 for Middle Georgia this spring and had a 1.07 ERA with a 2-0 record and 12 saves, walked the first man he faced, but erased him on a double play.
He walked another in the third, stranding him at first. He struck out Jose Ortiz, the final man he faced.
“Really, just first-pitch strikes, pitch to contact, right at them, get ground balls,” Shouse said of his game plan. “That’s what we’re taught, low in the zone, just go right at them. I wasn’t worried about strikeouts. I was just trying to get outs, throw strikes and let them get themselves out.”
And the Mustangs did, until the sixth inning. Facing Billy Waltrip, Jhimy Lopez reached on a swinging bunt, and Ronald Bueno beat out a bunt to the mound. Gabriel Rosa followed with a home run into the left-field bleachers to cut it to 4-3.
The Rockies put up three runs in the first. Raimel Tapia reached on a throwing error and sped all the way around to third when the ball rolled to the fence.
Emerson Jimenez beat out a grounder to short, scoring Tapia, then stole second and took third on a balk. He came home on Jose Briceno’s groundout, and Ryan McMahon followed with a double. Correlle Prime’s base hit up the middle gave the Rockies a 3-0 lead.
Jordan Patterson’s leadoff home run in the fifth made it 4-0.
Billings tied it on one of Grand Junction’s three errors, this one a bad pickoff throw to first by Carlos Esteves, allowing Rosa to score from second.
“It was not a pretty game for us tonight, a few mistakes out there,” Sanders said. “I think the turning point was that pickoff we had over there at first base. That’s youth sometimes, you know? Trying to do too much. But it’s all right, we’re working on it, but we let that one get away.”
Carlos Yan walked the first man he faced in the ninth, and Ortiz followed with a towering home run that cleared the batters’ eye in center field.
The Mustangs’ Werleen Taveras was terrific over the final three innings, striking out five and not allowing a base runner.
“Give credit to their pitching staff,” Sanders said. “The last guy who came in was lights-out, throwing a lot of strikes.”
Sanders was just as impressed with his starter, saying he’s eager to see him follow it up in five days.
Shouse is glad his first-game jitters are over, and now he can concentrate on pitching and building up his strength.
“I’ve got my confidence up and kind of settled in,” he said. “I can go out there and do what I’ve done my whole life, go pitch.”
Jon Gray’s debut tonight is the headline event of a busy week for the Rockies.
Thursday, the first 500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a David Dahl bobblehead. Dahl was the 2012 Pioneer League MVP.
After Friday night’s game, the Rockies will have their first of three fireworks shows this season.
Sunday, the first 300 fans receive a Rockies T-shirt as part of Purple Sunday.