METS ROUT ROCKIES 14-2 AS SECOND HALF OF SEASON STARTS
Gray pounded by Mets in Colorado’s first game after all-star break
NEW YORK» The Rockies’ 14-2 loss to the Mets at Citi Field on Friday night got so ugly, so early, it conjured up some classic quotes from legendary football coach John McKay.
Once, when asked about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ execution, McKay quipped: “I’m in favor of it.”
Another time, McKay famously said: “We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.”
Substitute pitch for tackle, and replace blocking with hitting, and you get the gist of how the Rockies opened the second half of their season.
Jon Gray, the would-be ace of Colorado’s staff, simply could not command his usually potent stuff. His location was off, his slider was flat and he was gone after two innings, plus six batters. The Mets battered Gray for eight runs on nine hits. He walked three and struck out one.
“I think it was a little bit of everything,” Gray said. “It was just a bad start altogether. I’ve been there before. It (stinks); I don’t like it. I hate it for my teammates, and I hate it for the guys playing behind me and for the guys who count on me to do good.” Gray vowed to get better.
“I’ve always shaken it off in the past and gone after the next one,” he said. “Nothing is going to stop me from going out and working hard this week and getting the next one.”
The Rockies (52-40) were feeling better about themselves before the All-Star Game when they took two of three from the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field last weekend. But in reality, the Rockies have been sliding for almost three weeks. They have lost 14 of their past 19 games since their high-water mark June 20, when they were 47-26.
Manager Bud Black, however, did not read too much into Friday night’s blowout.
“It’s one game, against a guy who was on,” Black said.
The “guy who was on” was New York right-hander Jacob deGrom (10-3), who handled Colorado as he always does. He pitched eight innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out 11 and walking only one. In five career starts vs. the Rockies, deGrom is 3-0 with an 0.99 ERA.
Also, the Rockies were facing the Mets’ ace at the wrong time. He improved to 6-0 with a 1.53 ERA over his last six starts. The six consecutive wins are a career high.
“He is one of those pitchers who comes
over the top and his fastball rides up,” said Carlos Gonzalez, who went 0-for-3 and saw his batting average dip to .218. “So it’s one of those pitches that is tough to lay off and you see a lot of guys swinging and missing at a high fastball, especially late in the count. That’s why he’s been so successful against this team.”
The 25-year-old Gray, meanwhile, seemed off the mark almost from the beginning. True, four of the Mets’ hits were bloopers, but they also roped solid hits off Gray (2-1), who saw his ERA rise from 3.75 to 6.23 after five starts. In four career starts vs. the Mets (40-47), Gray is 1-3 with a 9.72 ERA.
“There is still a progression to be made with Jon,” Black said. “Jon is a guy who has to continue to clear some hurdles on the pitching side. And he will in time. For a lot of young pitchers it takes a while to fully maximize who they are.”
While Black boxed Friday’s game and stored it away as one bad game, Gray was clearly disappointed he didn’t get the Rockies off to a better start to their second half.
“I’ve got a lot to learn, and baseball is never going to stop teaching me,” Gray said. “But to me it’s disappointing because this was a really important game for me to start the second half.
“I just wanted to get some good, positive energy going in that first game, and it (stinks) because I let the team down.”
Michael Conforto, right, celebrates with Travis d’Arnaud after Conforto’s three-run homer for the Mets in the seventh inning of Friday night’s series opener at Citi Field in New York against catcher Ryan Hanigan and the Rockies.