Rockies pummel Pirates 13-2 in series opener behind Brendan Rodgers, German Marquez
Over the past few years, critics have wondered whether Brendan Rodgers could live up to the expectations that come with being a No. 3 overall pick.
On Friday night at Coors Field, B-Rod turned in a performance proving he is capable of doing just that, and putting the team on his back. The second baseman broke the game open with a bases-clearing double in the third inning, then iced the 13-2 win over Pittsburgh with a no-doubt homer in the seventh.
That 433-foot dinger to left followed C.J. Cron’s 401-foot homer to right, giving the Rockies back-to-back jacks for the first time this year. Add in a hit parade (17 knocks) and a quality start from German Marquez, and Colorado demolished the Pirates in the series opener to improve to 4-1 on the final homestand before the all-star break.
“We’re coming off a pretty good series win against a good team (the Padres), and we’re just trying to ride that momentum,” Rodgers said. “We don’t take anybody for granted, and we came out swinging tonight.”
After Kris Bryant notched Colorado’s first hit with a double in the first inning, Charlie Blackmon brought him home with an RBI single as Colorado took an early lead.
The Pirates tied the game in the third, but it was Bryant’s web gem in the frame that fans will remember most. The left fielder made a sprawling catch going back and to his left, turning Josh VanMeter’s would-be extra-base hit into a sacrifice fly. Marquez doffed his cap toward Bryant in appreciation after the grab.
With the game tied 1-1 in the third, Rodgers took affairs into his own hands. With the bases juiced and two outs, Rodgers sat back on Jose Quintana’s full-count changeup and lined it to right to score three runs, making it 4-1.
“I saw eight pitches my first at-bat (before striking out), at least one of each pitch, so I felt pretty comfortable going into that second at-bat,” Rodgers said. “When I got to 3-2, I knew he had kept going to a changeup (in full counts). I wouldn’t say I was looking for it, but it was in the back of my mind… It was a ball, but I was in swing mode and I was able to put it in play.”
Manager Bud Black said Rodgers’ double was the hit that ignited the blowout, as the 11-run margin of victory was Colorado’s largest this season.
“That was a huge hit because it got us to 4-1,” Black said. “It was a momentum changer, and that kept us going the rest of the game.”
Pittsburgh got a run back off Marquez with Jason Delay’s RBI single in the fifth, but the Colorado bats weren’t done. The Rockies added Elias Diaz’s RBI single in the sixth, then popped off for four runs in the seventh, highlighted by the Cron and Rodgers longballs. Colorado tacked on two more insurance runs in the eighth.
For Rodgers, it’s the latest offensive outburst that signals he’s on track following an anemic start to the season at the plate. And defensively, Rodgers continues to impress as one of MLB’s best second baseman, according to both sabermetrics and traditional stats.
Marquez finished with two runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings, and stayed in the game after being hit by Kevin Newman’s comeback grounder to start the seventh inning. Marquez made the play after the ball drilled him in the right calf. He went down to the grass and was tended to by trainers before getting a couple more outs.
He said he’s “fine” from the leg shot, and pleased with how he pitched Friday.
“It’s not a surprise, because I usually throw good games against the Pirates, but early on I got that good feeling (about my stuff),” Marquez said. “Today was a lot of easy cheese.”
The right-hander also became the second Rockies’ pitcher with 900 career strikeouts with his whiff of Jake Marisnick in the fifth inning. Only southpaw Jorge De La Rosa (985) has more in Rockies history.
“That (milestone) means a lot to me,” Marquez said. “Nine hundred is a lot, but I want to be at the top of the list and I want to hit 1,000 this year or next year.”
Right-hander Robert Stephenson and southpaw Ty Blach polished off the win for Colorado (42-49, fourth place in NL West).