OK, OK, so it wasn’t a Game 7. Not even in the same universe.
But the Rockies, clinging to faint playoff hopes, desperately needed a win over Oakland Tuesday night at Coors Field. They got it, beating the A’s 3-1 behind a masterful, complete-game performance by Antonio Senzatela.
“I feel blessed,” said Senzatela, who also celebrated the birthday of his son, Thiago, who turned 3. “On that last out, there were a lot of emotions. I was really happy for my family and myself. And for the team, too. We really needed this win.”
The right-hander not only pitched the game of his career, he also threw his first complete game.
“This was big, we definitely needed it,” first baseman Josh Fuentes said. “I’m really happy for him.”
Fuentes said that Senzatela had A’s batters off-balance in almost every at-bat.
“I don’t want to say he had them rattled, but it seemed like they were very uncomfortable in the box,” Fuentes said.
A complete game is rare in this day and age. Rarer still for the Rockies. Their last pitcher to throw a complete game was German Marquez, Senzatela’s close friend, who did so April 24, 2019, at San Francisco. Tuesday marked the first complete game by a Rockies pitcher at Coors Field since Jon Gray on Sept. 27, 2016, vs. San Diego.
With 13 games remaining in the truncated 60-game season, Colorado is 22-25 and in ninth place in the chase for the National League’s eighth and final postseason berth.
Senzatela scattered six hits, struck out three and walked just one. His most important number was 15. That’s how many outs via groundballs Senzatela induced. That shouldn’t come as shock. Since his debut in 2017, Senzatela’s 50.5 ground-ball percentage ranks third in the National League (minimum 400 innings pitched).
“He had overall good stuff,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “His fastball had life to it and it looked as though it was located to both sides of the plate. The slider was sharp and he mixed in a couple of curveballs and got some outs with the changeup. I like the way he wiggled out of trouble a little bit early in the game to minimize some damage and keep them from scoring.”
In the eighth inning, Black and Senzatela had a heart-to-heart in the Rockies dugout about whether Senzatela should pitch the ninth.
“He asked me to be honest,” Senzatela said. “I told him I wanted to finish. I told him, ‘I’m good.’ He said, ‘Go get ’em.’ ”
Senzatela was backed up by some excellent defense, particularly from second baseman Garrett Hampson. In the seventh, Hampson’s 24-karat play was the highlight of the game. Hampson dove and snarred Jonah Heim’s hot grounder and flipped it out of his glove to shortstop Trevor Story to start the double play.
Colorado has been searching high and low for big hits and they finally found one from an unlikely source. Catcher Elias Diaz, getting just his eighth start of the season, ripped a two-run home run to left in the fifth off of Sean Manaea’s 2-1 curveball. He drove in Fuentes, who led off with a single. Diaz’s homer was not only his first of the season it was the first dinger by a Rockies catcher this season. Coming into the game, Colorado was the only team in the majors to not have at least one home run hit by a player at each position.
Fuentes, who has supplanted Daniel Murphy as the everyday first baseman, continues to be an impact player. His sacrifice fly to left drove in Nolan Arenado to boost Colorado’s lead to 3-1 in the sixth.
Colorado and Oakland finish off their brief two-game series on Wednesday afternoon at Coors.
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