Out of sync
Pitching falters as GJ Rockies fall to Orem
Baseball coaches will tell you, you’re only as good as your pitching.
Saturday night was not a good night for the Grand Junction Rockies.
Starting pitcher Peter Tago, the Rockies’ 2010 first-round draft pick who has yet to find a rhythm in stops in Class A Asheville and Class A (short season) Tri-City, was battered around by the Orem Owlz in a 15-7 loss at Suplizio Field.
“Peter didn’t have one of his best outings today and that’s obviously why we got off to a slow start, but I’m glad the guys showed a little fire,” Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders said. “Peter’s got to get back to square one and go to work again. He’s a competitor. We’re going to be counting on him this year and he’ll be back out there when his start comes up again and go back to work.”
One night after the Rockies celebrated the first three-home run game by one player in team history, they gave up two grand slams in one game.
“That’s baseball and you’ve got to look past that and keep battling every at-bat, every pitch,” second baseman Zach Osborne said.
“I guess it was one of those days. We don’t have an explanation for it. We came out flat and gave up some runs and couldn’t get anything rolling until that last inning.”
It was 7-1 when Tago was lifted in the fifth inning with one out and the bases loaded. Manuel Montilla, though, couldn’t escape the jam he inherited, giving up the first of two grand slams. Ryan Dalton, the No. 8 hitter for the Owlz, lifted a fly ball that just kept carrying until it cleared the wall in left-center. That gave Orem (4-6) an 11-1 lead, and the Owlz weren’t done.
In the seventh, Orem again loaded the bases against Montilla and Cal Towey drilled a two-out grand slam to straight-away center for a 15-1 lead. After Eric Aguilera doubled to right, Montilla was lifted for Jordan Mejia, who struck out Raul Linares.
Tago (0-1) gave up 10 runs in 4 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking one. The Owlz touched him for one run in the first, three in each the third and fourth and three more in the fifth.
The Rockies couldn’t get much of anything going against Orem starter Nate Smith, who allowed one run on three hits and struck out four in his five innings for his first win.
Raimel Tapia doubled home the Rockies’ only run against him in the second inning. Zach Osborne doubled off the wall with two out in the third, but Jose Briceno, who hit three home runs and a double Friday, popped up.
Osborne’s bid for an RBI extra-base hit in the sixth was spoiled by center fielder Chad Hinshaw, who made a great diving catch in left-center, but stayed on the ground, grabbing his left arm. He left the field and in the bottom of the eighth returned with his left arm in a sling.
“It was one of those off the bat it felt so good, it’s a hit,” Osborne said. “Off the bat you’re thinking that’s getting down for sure and next thing you look up and he’s caught it and he’s hurt and the trainer’s running out. You’re like, ‘What?’ But that’s baseball.”
Grand Junction gave the crowd something to cheer about in the final two innings, scoring six runs to make the final score look a little better. Two infield errors and a wild pitch by Orem reliever Brian Loconsole helped the Rockies score four in the ninth, and Jimenez lashed an RBI triple into the right-field corner, then scored on a base hit by Briceno.
“I’m proud of the guys, the way they fought back at the end and made it presentable,” Sanders said. “It happens; we’ve done it to a few teams this year and (it came) right back at us.”
Every Rockies starter has pitched into the fifth inning this season except Blake Shouse on Friday, and that was a planned two-inning stint. Two starters have gone six innings and one, Helmis Rodriguez, threw seven in his first win. Saturday, the bullpen got some work.
Jacob Newberry and Dylan Stamey each struck out two batters in their one inning of relief for the Rockies.
“It gives us the opportunity to give some guys an opportunity,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to remember this is about development at some point. It’s all about getting these kids better and seeing how they react to situations when they’re backed up against the wall.
“There were some positives tonight. That’s why we’re out here every day at 2:30 in the afternoon working on those things. We’ll be out there again. No panic. Just wash it away and come back tomorrow.”