Grand Junction Rockies recap, Aug. 6, 2017
Grand Junction 6, Helena 2
Sunday at Suplizio Field
Grand Junction 21-23, 3-3 second half, Helena 17-26, 2-3
On the mound
Jeffri Ocando left after six solid innings with the Rockies trailing 2-1, but his teammates picked him up with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, giving him his fifth win of the season against no losses.
He didn’t walk a batter, struck out two, and commanded his fastball from the start. He faced only three batters over the minimum in his outing, giving up single runs in the second (four batters) and third (five batters). Ocando helped himself in the second after the Brewers took a 1-0 lead and had a runner on first with one out. Franly Mallen hit a chopper back to the mound, which Ocando fielded and started a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
“I looked at that like a gift,” Ocando said through translator Pedro Gonzalez. “The inning wasn’t starting out really good, so I got that back to me and I just had to make a good throw to second to start the double play.”
He retired 10 batters in a row after Kenny Corey’s RBI single in the third, with 58 of his 84 pitches going for strikes.
“Ocando is a classic example of commanding his fastball and having a couple of pitches to work off of,” manager Frank Gonzales said. “But I’d say he was 70 percent fastballs today, which was really good.”
“My changeup wasn’t doing the job, so I threw the fastball more,” Ocando said.
At the plate
Only Jeff Moberg failed to get a hit for the Rockies, and the top third of the lineup accounted for half of Grand Junction’s 12 hits — Shael Mendoza, Gonzalez and Chad Spanberger each had two, as did shortstop Kennard McDowell.
Gonzalez drove home the tying run in the sixth inning and scored to put the Rockies up for good. Tyler Bates banged a double high off the left-field wall and Mendoza bunted him to third. With the infield playing in, Gonzalez roped the ball up the middle, scoring Bates, and used his long legs to stretch it into a double. He stole third, and after Spanberger drew a walk, Gonzalez scored on Casey Golden’s infield single to short.
“It all depends on how the pitcher is looking at you. Sometimes they’re too concentrated on the hitter and they look at you once and then go to the plate, and I used that to my advantage,” Gonzalez said.
Put the game away
Once the Rockies took the lead, they didn’t let down. They stranded two runners in the seventh, but put up three runs in the eighth, starting with Spanberger’s eighth home run of the season, a no-doubter line drive into the parking lot in right field. With one out, Javier Guevara punched a double to the gap in left center and scored on a single to center by Joey Bartosic.
McDowell singled to left, and when his wide turn at first drew a throw, he quickly hustled back toward the bag. Shortstop Antonio Pinero’s throw, however, got past the bag and McDowell did another U-turn, but it wasn’t far enough away to allow him to advance. It was far enough away to score Bartosic to make it 6-2.
Around the diamond
Grand Junction is now 3-4 on Sundays and 3-1 since the All-Star break. ... Former GJ shortstop Brendan Rodgers had social media buzzing Sunday when he was pulled from the game at Double-A Hartford, drawing speculation that he was about to be promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque. The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders quieted the talk when he reported Rodgers was pulled with quadriceps tightness.
Missoula at Grand Junction, 6:40 p.m., Suplizio Field
Starting pitchers: Lucas Gilbreath, GJ (1-2, 3.05 ERA) vs. TBA, MIS
TV: Ch. 16 (KGJT)
He said it
“When we get started on the mound well it sets the tone. We were behind there and (Ocando) came out losing the ballgame but we came back and swung the bats well and started playing our kind of baseball.” — manager Frank Gonzales
— Patti Arnold, The Daily Sentinel