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Mar 31, 2024 9:10 am

After rough start, Rockies vie to salvage split vs. D-backs

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies were worked over badly the first two games of the season but are now in position to earn a split.

The Rockies look to follow up their first victory of the season when they complete a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon in Phoenix.

Colorado was outscored 23-4 while losing the first two games of the season and watched the Diamondbacks score a franchise-record 14 runs in the third inning of Thursday’s season opener.

But it was a different story Saturday as the Rockies used a five-run fifth inning to take their first lead of the season en route to a much-needed 9-4 victory.

“It’s just us getting comfortable,” Colorado outfielder Nolan Jones said. “The first couple days, there are jitters. There’s Opening Day in someone else’s ballpark and the rough inning. A bunch of things go into it.”

Charlie Blackmon had a two-run double and Jones ripped a two-run triple during the five-run inning.

Ezequiel Tovar and Brenton Doyle each hit two-run homers for the Rockies, who finished with 10 hits. Blackmon, Doyle and Ryan McMahon had two hits apiece.

One Colorado player who is not hitting is Kris Bryant. He struck out four times on Saturday and is 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts this season.

The Rockies also turned four double plays as Arizona went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position two days after being 12-for-15 in that situation.

Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. continued his hot start by becoming the first player in Diamondbacks’ history to homer in each of the team’s first three games of the season.

Six players have opened the season with homers in four straight games. Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers was the most recent to achieve the feat in 2019.

“This year, I kind of came in working more on game situations,” said Gurriel, who is 6-for-13 with eight RBIs. “More about working the count. Whether it was swinging early in the count or trying to get deep into the count.”

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Gurriel has improved his decision-making when it comes to swinging at pitches and when to lay off.

“It’s an all-field approach,” Lovullo said. “He’s seeing the ball, everything is in a very strong hitting position and he’s just making really good swing decisions.

“I don’t think he tries to hit home runs. … He’s not a slugger. He’s an excellent hitter who can hit a home run on any pitch at any time.”

Offseason acquisition Eugenio Suarez hit his first homer of the season on Saturday. He is 6-for-11 with four RBIs.

Right-hander Ryan Feltner will be on the mound for the Rockies in the series finale.

Feltner missed more than four months of last season after being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Nick Castellanos of the Philadelphia Phillies on May 13. He sustained a fractured skull.

Feltner returned to make two late-season starts, throwing five shutout innings against the San Diego Padres in his return.

The 27-year-old went 2-4 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 starts last season.

Feltner is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in two career starts against Arizona with both outings coming in 2022. Christian Walker is 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles off Feltner while Joc Pederson is just 1-for-6.

Arizona will counter with right-hander Brandon Pfaadt, who went 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA in 18 starts and one relief appearance in 2023 as a rookie.

However, Pfaadt was solid in the postseason as he struck out 26 batters in 22 innings while going 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in five starts.

Pfaadt made one start against the Rockies last season and took the loss on Sept. 5. He gave up three runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. Doyle was 2-for-2 against Pfaadt.

–Field Level Media

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