Rockies vs. Cardinals: Gonzales shaky in MLB debut in 9-6 win

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

After falling behind 5-1 early from a Marco Gonzales start that showed promise, the Cardinals won thanks to a rejuvenated offense and a strong performance by the bullpen.

Marco Gonzales had about the start you would expect from a young pitcher who skipped AAA for his MLB debut at Coors Field. While his final line doesn't look great, it's not quite indicative of how great he pitched for a good portion of the game. Through the first time in the lineup, the Rockies were 0-8 with 3 Ks, 4 groundouts, and a pop out. A walk to DJ LaMahieu (69 wRC+) was his only issue.

In the first, he got Troy Tulowitzki to swing and miss three straight times on changeups below the strike zone. His changeup is as good as advertised. He also seemed to be hitting his spots with his fastball, which didn't get too far past 90 mph. However, his curveball was inconsistent at best. It hung a few times in critical situations and that's part of the reason he allowed five earned runs. Right now, it's probably safe to say he's a 2-pitch pitcher working to improve upon a third pitch.

The 4th inning was not his best. Drew Stubbs led off with a home run. After he got Tulowitzki to foul out to the catcher, the next five batters reached base (2 doubles, 2 singles, and a walk). The sixth batter was the pitcher, Yohan Flande. With a man on first and third, Josh Rutledge took off for home allowing him to score easily when Flande hit a slow chopper to short.

Gonzales did manage to pitch the fifth inning, looking pretty good against the Rockies 2-6 hitters. Tulowitzki and Morneau both got hits, but both were extremely weak hits - two of the outs in the inning were better hit balls. Overall, Gonzales' final line wasn't particularly pretty but he survived Coors: 5 IP, 5 ER, 3 Ks, 2 BBs

The Cardinals offense thankfully showed up today again, although really it should be expected to show up against a bad pitching staff at Coors Field if I'm being honest. Flande, a 28-year-old also making his debut, looked really bad in the 1st. He looked so bad that I would have been extremely frustrated had we lost this game. Matt Holliday walked on four straight pitches and Jhonny Peralta doubled. With second and third and two outs, Yadier Molina grounded out.

In the second, Flande struck out the side with the help of some questionable calls. In the third, Gonzales hit a double in his first major league at-bat. Then his childhood idol Matt Holliday drove him in giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Seriously, at this point Gonzales had thrown a no-hitter and scored the only run in the game. You can imagine how excited most Cards fans were at this point. Then the 4th happened and the harsh reality of a pitcher trying to pitch at Coors struck down the hopes and dreams of every child with a dream to pitch.

The Cardinals quickly rebounded though in the top of the 5th. Ellis led off with a double and scored on a Carpenter sacrifice fly. Holliday crushed a double followed by Adams crushing a home run and all of a sudden, the Cardinals were only losing 5-4.

In the 6th, Seth Maness cursed at the skies that he forgot to make a sacrifice to the gods of baseball. Rutledge hit a slow roller up the middle and reached base on an infield hit. Rutledge made his way to third with a sac bunt and a groundout. Then Charlie Blackmon hit a soaring line drive that would have dropped on any centerfielder in the league. Peter Bourjos reached it though and caught it, but in his tumble, the ball popped out of his glove allowing Rutledge to score.

The Cardinals picked the run back up in the 7th with a sacrifice fly by Peralta, scoring Carpenter. In the 8th, the Cardinals scored two runs to take the lead. With two outs and Daniel Descalso at the plate, Ellis broke for second. Descalso had a good pitch to hit and hit a pop fly to left field. It somehow found its way to the ground hitting the left-field foul line and scoring Ellis from first. Descalso was driven in by Carpenter, who amazingly had his first hit in this series (though with the help of two amazing defensive plays).

In the 9th, the Cardinals increased their lead thanks to a little Cardinals offense and a lot of bad defense from the Rockies. Adams hit a line drive single to lead off. Then he... wait for it.... stole second and advanced to third on the wild throw. Nick Masset then walked Peralta making it 1st and 3rd. Molina hit a sacrifice fly scoring Adams. Masset threw over to first and it was a bad throw putting Peralta at 3rd with one out. Allen Craig hit a sacrifice fly scoring Peralta. Overall, the Cardinals had four sac flys for the first time since 1980 and the fourth time in team history.

In the 9th, Trevor Rosenthal - who had come into the game in the 8th to get the 3rd out - threw a lot of pitches. The Rockies had 14 fouls with two strikes in the inning. I'll repeat: with a 2-strike count, the Rockies hit a foul 14 times. Rosenthal ended up walking two guys and striking out two guys before Morneua lined out to center. He threw 41 pitches. He's hopefully unavailable tomorrow.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notes

- Holliday likes to hit at Coors Field. He went 3-4 with a walk and a double.

- Bourjos stole a base, almost made an incredible diving catch, and only struck out once. But seriously, he looked not terrible with the bat, working an 11 pitch at-bat and hitting a line drive right to the right fielder for another in addition to his base hit.

- Good performance by the bullpen. I already mentioned Maness one earned run, which was pretty unlucky, but the rest were good. Pat Neshek and Sam Freeman combined for 1.2 IP with 2 Ks and no hits or walks allowed. Rosenthal was less good, but the Rockies seemed more committed to making him throw until his arm stopped working more than actually hitting the ball.

- You want the Cardinals to have more power? Welcome to Coors! The Cardinals had six doubles and one home run today.

Tomorrow Adam Wainwright faces off against Josh Beckett at 9:10 CT to start a four game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Some of you will be sleeping then and some of you will be forcing yourself to stay awake for that one. I will be at the Drive-In so I will be staying awake and not watching the game.

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