GJ Rockies fall flat
The offense was still off and the pitching was flat.
That combination led to one of the Grand Junction Rockies’ most lopsided losses of the season, 11-3 to Great Falls on Sunday afternoon at Suplizio Field.
The Voyagers (13-11) have outscored Grand Junction 16-3 in the series and remain tied for first place in the Pioneer League North. Great Falls won the first two of the three-game series, handing Grand Junction its first series loss of the season.
The teams conclude the series at 7:05 tonight at Suplizio Field.
The Rockies (14-10), who remain one game up in the South Division, haven’t scored more than three runs in their past four games. The Rockies were averaging 7.27 runs per game entering the series.
Grand Junction hitters struck out 13 times Sunday, nine against starter Jake Sanchez (1-2), who allowed three runs on six hits. The Voyagers did not walk a batter.
“I think guys are pressing and getting out of their zone and approach,” Rockies manager Anthony Sanders said.
“We’ve got to get back to the basics starting (tonight) and talk about approach with some of these guys and get some quality at-bats going.”
Raimel Tapia remains a bright spot in the struggling offense. He extended his hit streak to 15 games with a triple in the fourth inning and scored on a Dom Nunez single. Tapia has 27 hits in 62 at-bats (.435).
Terry McClure beat out a ground ball for an infield hit in the sixth and scored on Ryan Garvey’s home run to left field, but Great Falls shut down the Rockies the rest of the way.
Rockies starting pitcher Blake Shouse (0-1) allowed six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings coming off a no-hit, five-inning performance in his previous outing.
“I did good the first three innings,” Shouse said. “The fourth inning I kind of got behind and they started hitting me a little bit and I started struggling.
“I had the confidence, but I got a little tired, left the ball up a little bit and got behind (in the pitch count).”
Shouse, who was a closer in college, limited the Voyagers to four hits through three innings, but began to give up hits and walks in the fourth.
The first three hitters reached before he got an out in the fourth. Three runs scored in the inning.
He continued to struggle in the fifth, giving up two hits and one walk and was pulled.
“He seemed a little flat to me today,” Sanders said. “He never had a good secondary pitch working and we paid for it. Offensively we didn’t help him out at all, either.”
Helmis Rodriguez made his first relief appearance in the fifth, but was unable to get out of a two-on, one-out jam.
Rodriguez allowed back-to-back base hits before getting the second out, then gave up a three-run home run to Jairo Kelly, putting Great Falls up 9-1.
“We’ve got to do it,” Rockies pitching coach Ryan Kibler said of Rodriguez pitching in relief.
“He’s got to get comfortable doing that. It was new territory for him today. He was another guy unable to make adjustments. It was a bad day. We’re going to have bad days, but we’re trying to limit those bad days.”
NOTES: Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario will be at today’s series finale against Great Falls to watch his younger brother Jairo Rosario. Wilin, known as “Baby Bull,” will sign autographs before the game, the Grand Junction Rockies announced. … Colorado Rockies top draft pick Jon Gray is scheduled to make his second start of the season tonight. Kibler said Gray will throw 55 to 60 pitches. “I think you’ll see a different guy. He’s a lot more comfortable,” Kibler said.