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May 10, 2024 6:38 am

Rangers’ Jon Gray returns to Denver to face Rockies

Rangers, Jon Gray

Jon Gray was once a building block for the Colorado Rockies’ rotation. The third overall pick in the 2013 draft ascended to ace of the staff before control issues derailed his time in Denver.

He put those troubles behind him and found success with the Texas Rangers, and now he returns to face the Rockies as a World Series champion.

Gray (1-1, 2.50 ERA) will make his first-ever start as a visitor to Denver when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Rockies on Friday night.

The Rockies will send Austin Gomber (0-2, 3.79) to the mound.

Gray, 32, signed with Texas as a free agent in December 2021 after seven seasons with Colorado. He debuted in 2015, won at least 10 games each year from 2016-19 and started the 2017 National League wild-card game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He struggled in his final two seasons with the Rockies but has been a solid part of the Texas staff.

The right-hander earned the win in Game 3 of the 2023 World Series by throwing three innings of shutout relief, and the Rangers closed out the Diamondbacks in five games.

Gray has faced his former team once, getting a win with five innings of one-run ball on May 20, 2023, but that start came in Arlington, Texas. He was injured the last time Texas came to Denver in 2022, so he’s excited to face the Rockies at Coors Field.

“I just want to enjoy it really,” Gray told JustBaseball.com. “It’s a game at Coors Field, so it’s going to be fun. I’m excited to see what that’s like after being away for so long.

“I’ve always enjoyed pitching there, so I’m excited about it. I just feel like more of a complete pitcher.”

Gray was part of some good Colorado seasons, including back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017-18, but the Rockies are far from that now. They beat San Francisco 9-1 on Thursday to end a four-game skid, but they have only nine wins this year and have trailed in 36 of their 37 games.

Colorado has yet to win consecutive games, let alone a series, and is off to the worst start in franchise history.

The Thursday game — and the end of the Rockies’ 8-6 loss to the Giants on Wednesday — provided a glimpse of what the team can do when its offense is clicking. Colorado put up six consecutive hits in a seven-run fourth inning on Thursday, building on a late rally the previous night.

“We have a ton of faith in each other,” said Rockies center fielder Brenton Doyle, who hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning on Thursday. “When we’re passing the bats, good things are going to happen.”

Gomber hopes to get that kind of run support when he faces the World Series champions. He threw six scoreless innings at Pittsburgh on Saturday, but Colorado couldn’t generate any offense in a 1-0 loss. Gomber has a 3.07 ERA in his last five starts but still has no victories.

The 30-year-old left-hander has faced Texas four times — three starts — in his career, going 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA. He last faced the Rangers in Denver in 2021, and he held them scoreless over six innings.

–Field Level Media

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