The moment of doubt in Antonio Senzatela’s 2018 starting pitching debut arrived abruptly in the first inning Tuesday night, when the Giants put runners on the corners and Pablo Sandoval strolled to the dish.
But after Senzatela induced a Sandoval popout to end the threat, all doubt dissipated. The right-hander settled in, shoving his way to seven total innings of shutout baseball while the offense — highlighted by home runs from Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — ransacked Giants starter Chris Stratton.
“One of the most important pitches of the game was the changeup on the 2-0 pitch to Sandoval in first inning that he popped up,” manager Bud Black said. “That might have been the most important pitch of the game.”
The end result was a decisive 8-1 win over San Francisco at Coors Field, putting Colorado (43-43) in position for a momentum-laden sweep Wednesday — a victory that, if achieved, would get the Rockies above .500 for the first time since June 8.
“It was huge to get out of that first inning with a zero — stranding those runners was huge, and I settled down nicely after that,” Senzatela said. “It felt good to be back out there as a starter again, and to keep things going in the right direction for our rotation.”
Blackmon got things going with his solo homer in the bottom of the first, and a few batters later Gerardo Parra’s single brought home Arenado to give Colorado an early 2-0 cushion for Senzatela, who was officially recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque earlier in the day.
Colorado added to its tally in the third via Trevor Story’s RBI triple to score Carlos Gonzalez, but it was Arenado who delivered the big blow via his three-run blast in the fifth that extended the lead to 6-0.
With the swing, Arenado took sole possession of first place in the National League with 22 home runs and moved into a tie for the most RBIs with 63. And for those on the way-too-early Triple Crown watch, Arenado ranks fifth in average at .313. Cincinnati second baseman Scooter Gennett leads the way at .332.
Arenado continues to be a Giants killer, with 90 RBIs in 100 career games against San Francisco, the second-most among all active players (Matt Kemp, 93).
“San Francisco brings out the best in me,” Arenado said. “With three World Series rings (recently), and how they’re always one of the top-tier teams in our division — I always really want to beat them, because I feel like they’ve always beat us in the past a lot.”
Also of note on a perfect July evening in LoDo, capped by the first of two nights of fireworks: Second baseman DJ LeMahieu pulled off multiple web gems, one on a groundball up the middle to take away a single and another on a leap in shallow right to snare a line drive.
And after two more insurance runs in the sixth via RBI knocks by LeMahieu and Blackmon, Mike Dunn, Jake McGee and Harrison Musgrave combined for the final six outs in front of a sellout crowd. Colorado has won five of its last six.
Giants LHP Andrew Suarez (3-4, 4.18 ERA) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (5-3, 4.23), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM; 850 AM
Anderson was pegged for five runs in five-plus innings in a loss to San Francisco on May 20, and Brandon Crawford, Gorkys Hernandez and Buster Posey have homered off the left-hander. The majority of Anderson’s struggles have come at home, too, with a 1-3 record and 5.26 ERA in seven starts at Coors Field. He’ll also have to show improvement early in the count against an aggressive Giants lineup, as the opposition is hitting .325 with four home runs when the count is 0-0, .375 when it’s 1-0 and .355 when it’s 0-1. Meanwhile, Colorado put up four runs in five innings against rookie Suarez in a win May 28, the only time the Rockies have faced him.
Thursday: Off day
Friday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (6-8, 5.14 ERA) at Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (8-6, 5.11), 8:10 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Rockies TBA at Mariners LHP James Paxton (8-2, 3.39), 2:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (8-6, 3.25) at Mariners LHP Wade LeBlanc (3-0, 3.38), 2:00 p.m., ATTRM