Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 20, 2017
Idaho Falls 11, Grand Junction 6
Sunday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 28-28, 10-8 second half, Idaho Falls 26-30, 9-9
Welcome to the States
Aneudy Duarte, who joined the Rockies from the Dominican Summer League this past week, made his United States debut in the fifth inning.
After a serious case of nerves, he showed some good stuff, striking out three consecutive batters after a pair of walks. His fastball was consistently in the low 90s, and he threw a couple of nasty change-ups to work out his butterflies.
“The Latinos call it a mariposa,” GJ manager Frank Gonzales said. “They said the butterflies have left. After those strikeouts, he said, ‘No more mariposas,’ so he should be set now.”
His new teammates helped get him through the first couple of batters, with catcher Javier Guevara making a few trips to the mound, and Alan Trejo jogging in from shortstop once. Gonzales also made one trip to help settle his 19-year-old reliever, who recorded 10 saves in 11 chances and brought a 0.79 ERA from the DSL.
“It was good to see him get in a game where there wasn’t a lot of pressure on him, but still for him, his first outing in the States, I wanted to make sure I went out and didn’t let it get too far in the inning. I went out and tried to relax him, and I thought he did well after that,” Gonzales said.
The coaches got their first real look at Duarte, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, but the first impression was a good one.
“You’ve seen if the guy can throw the fastball, and it looks like he’s got a little sink, it was down, and the change-up played well,” Gonzales said. “We like that. I’m glad he got the first one out of the way. He didn’t throw too many breaking balls, but he had some good swing-and-miss change-ups.”
The bullpen did the job after Jeffri Ocando struggled early, giving up five runs in the second to put the Rockies in a 6-run hole they weren’t able to erase. Hunter Williams allowed one hit and struck out two in his one inning, Shameko Smith gave up three runs in the eighth, but Jefry Valdez threw a scoreless ninth.
Three walks hurt Ocando (5-2), but the Chukars came out swinging, with four extra-base hits in the first four innings. Guevara also made a bad throw trying to pick a runner off first, which was followed by a home run off the scoreboard by catcher Chris Hudgins.
“You take away an inning there, a five-run inning is a big inning,” Gonzales said. “You’ve got to pitch a little bit to give your team a chance, and unfortunately Ocando didn’t have one of his better days.”
At the plate
Trejo went 3 for 4, hitting his sixth home run of the season, a shot nearly to the top of the bleachers behind the left-field wall. Todd Czinege added a three-run home run in the ninth, his sixth of the year, but the Rockies didn’t do much early against David McKay, who scattered six hits and struck out eight in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter.
In the field
Trejo not only had a good night at the plate, he had the web gem of the night. In the third inning with a runner on first, Hudgins hit a chopper up the middle. Trejo charged the ball, fielding it in front of second base. He whirled and flipped the ball out of his glove to Shael Mendoza, who turned the double play.
Around the diamond
Pitcher Devin Burke has left Grand Junction to continue to rehab his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. Burke, an undrafted right-hander out of Virginia Tech, pitched in Grand Junction in 2013 and had climbed to Double-A before rupturing the tendon in the offseason.
Idaho Falls at Grand Junction, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Lucas Gilbreath, GJ (1-3, 3.68 ERA) vs. Robert Garcia, IF (1-2, 10.16 ERA)
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
They said it
“I think we relied on how we played (Saturday), thought we’d just show up and play, but once again, if you don’t start well on the mound ...” — GJ manager Frank Gonzales
— Patti Arnold, The Daily Sentinel