Nolan Arenado launched a first-inning home run Tuesday night to give Rockies’ starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez a welcomed three-run cushion in San Diego.
The Rockies squandered it, quickly, in a 14-5 Padres victory that will go down as one the more bizarre Colorado pitching performances this season. The Rockies fall to 20-22 with the loss as their playoff window continues to tighten.
Gonzalez, in his first start since early August, left the game with zero hits allowed. The problem? His inability to locate the strike zone led to 31 first-inning pitches — walking three Padres before pegging Austin Nola to bring the first San Diego run home. Rockies manager Bud Black had enough, and after just a 1/3-inning, turned to the bullpen with the bases loaded.
“(Gonzalez) could just not get the ball in the strike zone,” Black said. “It looked from the side that there were some close misses. When he hit the guy with the bases loaded on a full-count pitch, that was a telling sign that it was not going to be his night.”
Rockies’ reliever Jose Mujica, in his MLB debut, never stood a chance. His second pitch of the night was blasted for a grand slam by Padres outfielder Wil Myers. In the second inning, with San Diego up 5-3, Mujica allowed five more runs produced by Manny Machado (two-run double) and Nola (three-run homer).
In the fifth, Colorado chipped into the 10-3 deficit when Trevor Story grounded into a force-out that scored Tony Wolters. Matt Kemp added a sixth-inning RBI single scoring Arenado. Colorado’s third baseman, whose previous homer marked his first away from Coors Field this season, reached base on a double.
“(Arenado) has worked hard the last couple of days,” Black said. “He’s been tireless as far as getting swings in to feel comfortable.”
But the Padres closed the door on any Colorado comeback attempt with four additional runs in the seventh inning off Rockies’ reliever Antonio Santos.
The Rockies close out their series in San Diego on Wednesday.