By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–Giants’ fans versed in what makes the team click under manager Gabe Kapler already know: Carlos Rodon and his contributions are special. It may sound trite, but the team’s key free agent acquisition is just what the doctor ordered.
Thankfully, Kapler comes closest to describing the newest phenomenon to hit Oracle Park.
“As good as he’s been, as many dudes as he struck out, there’s still probably more ceiling in there for Carlos,” Kapler said. “He’s that good.”
Rodon piled up 12 strikeouts, and mixed in two, timely double play balls in the Giants 8-5 win over the visiting Rockies Monday. The former Chicago White Sox threw 110 pitches and marveled at how easily the ball left his hand more than his ability to consistently dial up swings and misses.
“It worked out for us,” Rodon said of Kapler’s decision to allow him to pitch a sixth inning. “I felt like it was an easy fastball and I really wasn’t exerting a lot on all pitches, so it was an easier decision for me to say yes.”
“He has good stuff,” manager Bud Black said of Rodon, who frustrated Rockies’ hitters. “He’s not leading the league in strikeout percentage for any reason on that his stuff. It’s legit. We saw the velocity and we saw the slider, just like we talked about. We knew it was coming.”
Rodon’s first six outings as a Giant are in the record books. His 53 strikeouts over that span are the second most registered by a Giants’ pitcher since the turn of the century 122 years ago. Only Tim Lincecum with 56 in 2010 has tallied more.
The Giants’ offense did their part with a run in the first, two in the third and three in the sixth which ruined the evening for Austin Gomber. The Rockies’ starter surrendered a first inning triple to Austin Slater and a two-run shot to Mauricio Dubon in the third. After a pair of hitters reached in the sixth, Gomber was relieved by Robert Stephenson, who couldn’t keep the visitors within range, down just 3-2.
Darin Ruf’s single scored Dubon, Brandon Crawford drew a walk, then the Rockies got sloppy. Stephenson uncorked a wild pitch and catcher Elias Diaz’ throwing error allowed Wilmer Flores to score. Pinch-hitter Joc Pedersen’s sacrifice fly chased home a third run in the inning.
The Giants’ offense showed resourcefulness throughout with three sacrifice flies and a pair of stolen bases. They piled up 11 hits, performed late in counts as Kapler’s edict for his team to control a game’s “time of possession” played big. The team capped a brilliant offensive night with a pair of runs in the eighth.
The Giants won a third straight after losses in seven of eight. The momentum could build as the Rockies have dropped eight in a row to the Giants, with each of those eight wins featuring at least 10 Giants’ hits. The Rockies have dropped seven of eight away from Coors Field, possibly signaling that their unexpected fast start to the season could be ending.
Alex Wood takes the mound for San Francisco on Tuesday, and he’s had success against the Rockies across 19 starts against them for the Dodgers and Giants. What’s telling is most of that success has come away from Coors Field, where Wood’s ERA is an undesirable 8.50.
Antonio Senzatela starts for Colorado. He has a 5-1 record against the Giants.