Howard pitches GJ Rockies past Billings
Sam Howard threw five shutout innings Thursday night as Grand Junction jumped to a 6-0 lead en route to a 9-5 win over Billings in a Pioneer League baseball game in Billings, Montana.
Howard earned his first win with the Rockies, limiting the Mustangs (24-26, 7-5 second half) to four hits and three walks, and he struck out six batters.
Grand Junction (29-20, 6-5 second half) gave Howard a comfortable lead, scoring twice in the first inning and four times in the third.
The Rockies scored their first run on a double steal as Forrest Wall stole home as Yonathan Daza swiped second. Daza then stole third and scored on a wild pitch.
In the third inning, Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer, playing his second game on rehab assignment with Grand Junction, led off with a double. Daza followed with a double to score Cuddyer, and after an out, Daza scored when Kevin Padlo reached base on an error by the third baseman. Padlo eventually scored on a groundout, and Robert Ramos singled home Hamlet Marte to conclude the outburst.
The Rockies didn’t score again until the ninth. Meanwhile, Billings pulled within a run with three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth.
Grand Junction got some breathing room, however, as Cuddyer started a two-out rally. He singled to the pitcher, whose throwing error allowed Cuddyer to take second base. After a pitching change, Daza singled to put runners on first and third, and Randy Reyes belted a three-run home run to left field, extending the lead to 9-5.
Rockies reliever Taylor Black closed the contest for his first save. He allowed a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, then struck out the final batter looking.
Black pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and no walks, and he struck out two.
Cuddyer served as the Rockies’ designated hitter, batting second in the order, and finished 2 for 4 with a double and two runs. He also was hit by a pitch. Ramos led Grand Junction with three hits, and Daza had two hits and two steals.
Grand Junction’s win gave it a split of the four-game series, and the Rockies start a three-game series tonight at Great Falls. The game starts at 7:05.