Monday, June 27, 2016

Rox ride 6-run inning to spoil Tulo's return

The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado were proud of the 34,619 in attendance who loudly cheered Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in his return to Coors Field -- where he played from 2006 to last July.
But Gonzalez, with a three-run sixth-inning homer, and Arenado, with a go-ahead two-run single an inning later, attracted the most joyful noises of the Rockies' 9-5 victory Monday night.
Gonzalez's 189th homer with the Rockies, which moved him past Tulowitzki and into fifth on the team's career list, cut the Blue Jays' lead to 4-3.
"I want to make sure the fans are on my side and not the other side -- that's what it looks like in the first inning when Tulo stepped up to the plate and everybody was cheering and they got the Tulo chant. I was like, 'OK let me make sure that I'm the one wearing purple,'" Gonzalez said with a smile. "They better cheer for me when I hit it in the seats."
Arenado's two-run single off Drew Storen (1-3) was part of a six-run seventh that also included Daniel Descalso's two-run single, Mark Reynolds' bases-loaded walk andBrandon Barnes' RBI double. Arenado also made a slick, spinning fielding play on anEdwin Encarnacion smash in the fourth -- all in the presence of his mentor, Tulowitzki.
"I'm always pulling for him -- it's just a weird time not to pull for him," Arenado said. "It was cool to see the ovation he got … but it was a little weird. It's a big series for us."
Rockies rookie Jon Gray (5-3), who was removed from his last start after four innings because of right arm fatigue, struck out eight and gave up five hits in seven innings.
"Everything felt fresh," said Gray, who reduced his throwing after being removed from a no-decision at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. "I was on top of the ball, sliders were down. I felt pretty good."
Gray gave up a solo homer to Devon Travis (fifth homer) in the first and a two-run shot to Edwin Encarnacion (20th) in the Jays' three-run sixth.
"It was a cool moment for me," Tulowitzki said of the standing ovation he received upon returning. "It brought back a lot of memories but it was great to see the fans react that way. It was definitely exciting."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Not letting him off the hook:
 Storen entered with six clean outings in 32 games; sometimes he escaped trouble, sometimes he didn't. But in the seventh, after Barnes' leadoff single, Storen hit Charlie Blackmon and Cristhian Adames. Then Arenado made him pay with a two-run single that gave the Rockies the lead and touched off a big inning.
"I figured I'd get a chance to get a pitch over the plate, and luckily I did," Arenado said. "But Storen's a good pitcher. He's not a comfortable at-bat."
The Ed-Wing: The Blue Jays were in the lead, 2-0, when Encarnacion gave the club some breathing room in the sixth with a two-run shot to center. The veteran slugger is the Major League leader in RBIs with 69, and 54 of those have come over his previous 52 games. According to Statcast™, Encarnacion's 20th homer of the year was projected to travel 440 feet and left his bat at 100 mph. Encarnacion added a solo shot in the ninth for his third multi-homer game of the season.
The here and now: Gonzalez's three-run shot -- a day after his grand slam was part of a Rockies victory over the D-backs -- came after the Jays' three-run top of the fifth. He homered on an Estrada 2-2 changeup -- his signature pitch -- to give Gray and the Rockies a lift.
"We were real silent up until then," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Estrada, if you look at his numbers, they're pretty ridiculous. He's having a heck of a year. That changeup is legit."
Travis time: Travis gave the Blue Jays an early lead with a solo shot to straightaway center field in the first inning. According to Statcast™, Travis' fifth homer of the season was projected to travel 434 feet and left his bat at 101 mph. Travis now has four home runs since June 16, and he entered play on Monday with a .404 average, eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs over his previous 12 games.
QUOTABLE
"We could have had over a .500 month [assured] a week ago, if we could have won those games [three tough losses, one to the Yankees, two to the D-backs]. But we've got a good offense and are playing good ball." -- Arenado, against the backdrop that the Rockies are a win away from their first June over .500 since 2011
"I've told some of the guys, when you throw a curveball here, you have to act like it's an 0-2 count and bounce it. It's a tough place throw an offspeed pitch." -- Estrada, on only using his curveball a couple of times during the game
"Honestly I didn't think there was really any doubt that I would get [cheered] ... I felt like when I was here I had a good relationship with the fans. The whole Tulo chant thing, I remember seeing a lot of jerseys. I knew they were going to be good to me." -- Tulowitzki
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Estrada pitched at least six innings and surrendered five or fewer hits for the 12th consecutive start. That extended his Major League record after Jake Arrieta (2014), Johnny Cueto (2013-14) and Johan Santana (2004) each did it for 10 consecutive starts.
• The six runs allowed in the seventh inning were the most Toronto has surrendered in any one inning this season.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BUNT
With injuries rendering second baseman DJ LeMahieu (left knee contusion) and shortstopTrevor Story (bruised right middle finger) unavailable, Rockies manager Walt Weiss had justRyan Raburn and backup catcher Tony Wolters on his bench. After Barnes singled to lead off the seventh, Weiss turned to Tyler Anderson -- a member of the rotation -- as a pinch-hitter. Anderson's ability to put a 1-2 slider in play helped apply the pressure that led to the big inning.
WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ will take the mound against the Rockies on Tuesday with first pitch scheduled for 8:40 p.m. ET. Happ has made two appearances, one start, in his career at Coors Field. He has allowed three earned runs on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Rockies: Eddie Butler will take the mound Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MT. Butler has allowed six runs in both of his last two appearances and has struggled to a 9.70 ERA at home over 21 1/3 innings.

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