Anderson Amarista knew he lost focus for a split second in the first inning Thursday night.
A two-out balk helped set up a run for Great Falls, but after that, Amarista had laser focus in the Grand Junction Rockies' 8-2 victory at Suplizio Field.
"I lost focus for a little bit on the balk. I understand I lost focus but I got back in the game and did what I needed to do," Amarista said through translator Andy Gonzalez after throwing six outstanding innings for his first victory of the season.
It was a turnaround from his start on July 4, when he gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings to Orem. Thursday, he allowed only one run on three hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out six.
"I was more aggressive, I was attacking the zone more, more focused on executing the pitch instead of throwing," Amarista said. "I was focused on pitching."
His manager and teammates saw the difference — only one batter reached base against him after the first inning, when he gave up a two-out triple to Luis Curbelo in the third inning, but left him stranded when he struck out Harvin Mendoza.
"That's the best we've seen him," manager Jake Opitz said. "After (the balk) in the first, he was pretty much lights-out. He threw the curveball for strikes, threw it for chases, located his fastball, threw the change-up. He was good.
"We've seen him have those good, quick innings, but the thing is, he couldn't ever finish it. Tonight he looked like he could throw nine, 10 innings. He was cruising. We got him out on a good note, six solid innings and we had some guys in the bullpen who needed to throw."
Blair Calvo and Ever Moya each threw one shutout inning, with Calvo fanning two and Moya striking out the side in the eighth, and Anderson Pilar allowed one run in the ninth.
As for the Rockies' offense, a quick chat after the first two innings seemed to turn things around. After taking a 4-1 lead in the third, the Rockies kept working to add to the lead.
"I thought our first time through the lineup, our approach wasn't very good and we talked about that in the dugout," Opitz said. "After that they swung the bats well. Every inning we had threats on the bases and good hits from (Julio) Carreras in a couple of innings, (Yolki) Pena hit that home run (in the eighth)."
Back-to-back singles in the third inning by Turner Brown and Eddy Diaz set up Jack Yalowitz, who had taken a called third strike in the first inning. This time, when he saw a pitch he could drive, he jumped all over it, taking it out over the right-field wall for his first professional home run.
Christian Koss followed one out later with a solo shot to right, also his first pro home run.
"I hadn't played in the last week or so, battling a minor injury, and I was still getting comfortable in the box, but after the first at-bat I felt like I settled down a little bit and things worked out," Yalowitz said. "That got me comfortable pretty quick, for sure."
He doubled and scored in the fifth and seventh innings, with Carreras coming through with base hits to get the runs home. In the fifth, Yalowitz took a wide turn at third and headed for the plate more from the third-base dugout angle than down the line. His slide knocked the ball out of catcher Jacob Goldfarb's glove and Yalowitz lunged back to touch the plate.
"Momentum," he said with a grin. "I scored the run, so it worked."
He finished the game 3 for 5, scored three runs and drove in three, nearly doubling his RBI total of the season — five entering the game. He boosted his batting average from .171 to .225.
During his time getting healthy again, Yalowitz, Colorado's 10th-round draft pick out of Illinois, did his homework.
"When you sit there's two ways you can go about it, you can just sit around and not pay attention, but I really took the past week to focus on the game and see how pitchers are attacking in professional baseball as opposed to college," he said.
"I feel like that helped slow it down a little bit. I'm still making the transition from college ball but I feel like now I'm starting to get in a groove and I'm comfortable and the game's slower again, so that's good."
Grand Junction (14-11) peppered the Voyagers (9-14) for 13 hits. The Rockies kept putting pressure on the Voyagers, who lost their eighth straight road game.
"That's what our organization is about," Yalowitz said. "We're a team that never takes the foot off the gas pedal."
Back to Boise: Pitcher Peyton Gray, who was assigned to Grand Junction on July 8, was reassigned Thursday to Short-A Boise. Gray pitched one inning for Grand Junction, at Orem on July 8. He was signed as a free agent in 2018 and spent last season in Boise. Gray, who threw a bullpen session at Suplizio Field on Wednesday, met the Rockies in Orem, and had to drive back to Boise on Thursday.