Gray pounded by Mets in Colorado’s first game af­ter all-star break

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

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.”

Mike Stobe, Getty Images

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.

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