Staying in control
Rockies pitchers don't let walks deter them in win over Idaho Falls
Once the umpire calls ball four and the batter is walking down the line, it’s too late to change the outcome.
The Grand Junction Rockies pitchers are starting to realize that.
Four pitchers combined to allow no earned runs on four hits and strikeout a season-high 13 batters, to defeat Idaho Falls 4-1 on a rare chilly night Thursday at Suplizio Field. The attendance was a season-low 1,952.
The Rockies (9-9) won their third consecutive game and are back to .500 for the first time since the last homestand. They are 6-2 at home.
“The biggest change is the fact when we do walk people, the mindset is now we’re going to get the next guy out,” Grand Junction manager Tony Diaz said. “We’re not going to be dwelling on what already happened or what we can’t control.
“I have to give a lot of credit to (pitching coach Ryan) Kibler. He’s been pounding the guys (in their heads), once something’s over it’s over. That’s been the biggest difference. When (the walks) happened, the guys kept their demeanor. They’re going to stay after it.”
Johendi Jiminian had his best outing in his third start of the season. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic didn’t give up a run in three innings. He allowed two runs in each of his first two outings, three innings in the first outing and two in the second.
“I was throwing strikes in the zone,” Jiminian said. “I was pitching to contact. I felt good. I worked hard for my team.”
Shawn Stuart (3-0) allowed one hit and struck out seven, including six consecutive in three innings of relief for the victory.
“It’s unusual, but I guess you roll with it,” Stuart said of fanning six in a row. “I wasn’t trying to strike anyone out. I was trying to pitch down in the zone and to contact. They were taking pitches and it let me get to my secondary stuff, which is better.”
Jordan Mejia overcame some early control issues — he hit the first batter he faced, then walked the next — but came back with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to get out of the seventh. He allowed one hit and struck out four in two innings of relief.
Jesse Meaux set down the side in order in the ninth.
Matt Wessinger’s second error led to the Chukars’ only run in the top of the sixth, but he drove in three of the four runs for the Rockies as well.
“I’ve actually had a lot worse than today,” Wessinger said. “Earlier in the year, against Liberty, I had six errors in a doubleheader.
“It seems like once you make a mistake everything comes at you. You just got to be ready and not let it affect you.”
The Rockies led 3-0 when Wessinger’s error led to a run with all three runs scoring off his bat.
Wilfredo Rodriguez scored the first run in the third inning on Wessinger’s ground out.
In the fifth, Wessinger hit a two-run home run against the breeze blowing in from left field. It was his first professional home run.
“I wasn’t really expecting to hit a home run,” Wessinger said. “I had two strikes and was just trying to make contact with (Juan) Ciriaco out there. He hung a slider and I put a good swing on it.”
Ben Waldrip led off with a single and scored on Ryan Garvey’s double to left-center field for a 4-1 lead.