|Rockies looking for even more pitching vs. Pirates|
Starting pitching that was expected to be a strength for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Colorado Rockies, has fallen short lately.
Or at least it had for Colorado before the teams opened a series at Pittsburgh, with Rockies right-hander German Marquez pitching eight shutout innings of three-hit ball in a 5-0 victory Tuesday.
That halted Colorado's four-game losing streak and Pittsburgh's three-game winning streak.
The Pirates, tap dancing with their rotation, didn't even name a starter for Wednesday's second game of the series until after Tuesday's game. And it's not even really a starter.
Rookie right-hander Montana DuRapau (0-0, 1.35) will be used as an opener for the second time in a week -- and the second time ever Pittsburgh has gone with that type of pitching approach.
DuRapau gave up one hit over two scoreless innings, with four strikeouts Saturday in the opener role during a 7-2 Pirates win at San Diego. It was just his fifth big league appearance.
Two Pittsburgh starters, Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams, are on the injured list. Chris Archer, who took the loss Tuesday, has spent time on the IL, as has Jordon Lyles.
Archer takes no solace in the fact that Pirates starters have been the victims of poor defense at times, or have experienced costly fluke plays.
"Good pitchers get out of those situations," he said. "They minimize the damage."
The Pirates also could be without right fielder Gregory Polanco, who was scratched Tuesday because of a jammed finger. Catcher Francisco Cervelli left Tuesday's game as a precaution an inning after he took a foul tip near his neck.
Before Marquez's outing Tuesday, Colorado starters ranked at the bottom of the National League in ERA (5.64), opposing batting average (.276) and WHIP (1.45), and were tied for the most homers allowed (47).
Back in the spring, Rockies manager Bud Black liked his rotation enough that he told the Denver Post, "We feel like on any given night, any given start, we can match up with anybody."
Left-hander Kyle Freeland, who is not expected to start this series, but was thought to be a key member of the rotation entering the season, also had high confidence in the Colorado starters back in the spring.
"We are a rotation that isn't a stranger to this level of play," Freeland said then, according to the Post.
"We feel like we can compete and belong with the upper echelon of pitchers - one through five in the rotation, and beyond that."
Right-hander Jon Gray (3-4, 4.73 ERA) is scheduled to start for Colorado on Wednesday and is looking for consistency.
Friday at Philadelphia, Gray gave up five runs and five hits, with three walks and eight strikeouts, in 4 2/3 innings of a 5-4 loss. The Phillies scored all five runs with two outs.
Black defended Gray, who has given up five runs in three of his past four outings.
"I'm not frustrated at all with how he's thrown the ball -- his delivery, his stuff," Black said. "He's competing. He's playing baseball. The other side's playing too."
Gray hasn't had great luck against Pittsburgh. In three career starts, he is 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA and hasn't lasted more than 4 2/3 innings in any of those starts.
--Field Level Media