CINCINNATI — A quality start, momentum-shifting homers and some flashy defense to boot. It’s a consistent recipe for baseball success, but not one that Colorado’s been able to follow much lately while sinking in the wild card chase.
However, the Rockies finally put all those elements together on Friday night at Great American Ballpark. German Marquez’s seven innings of two-run ball were backed up by homers from Daniel Murphy and David Dahl. In the end, Colorado beat the Reds 12-2 in the opener of a series in which they desperately need a sweep.
“The lineup did a good job with good at-bats all around, and Marquez was strong again,” Dahl said. “We did a good job of building off what we did (Thursday) against Max Scherzer. With getting wins on both these days, we have to start to ride this momentum out.”
Murphy got Colorado rolling in the first inning towards the club’s first consecutive wins since June 28 and June 29. With Cincinnati’s all-star ace Luis Castillo on the hill, Murphy roped a first-pitch fastball for a three-run ride to the right-field seats following Charlie Blackmon’s leadoff single and Nolan Arenado’s walk.
It was the second homer in as many nights for Murphy, who’s batting .333 since May 30 as the first baseman’s early-season finger injury now appears to be a complete non-issue at the plate. Murphy missed about a month due to a left index finger fracture that occurred the second game of the season, and upon returning, wore a splint on that finger until July 6.
Black believes the true pure hitter in Murphy is now beginning to fully emerge with his finger 100 percent healthy.
“He made a comment about two weeks ago to me about his finger, and it was sort of subtle, but that he feels as though he’s normal again,” Black said. “It takes a while … He probably came back (too soon), because he was capable of playing but the injury was lingering a little bit.”
Meanwhile, Marquez, gifted with a 3-0 lead, was nicked for a run in each of the first two frames. Joey Votto’s RBI groundout enabled Jesse Winker to score in the first inning, and then Josh VanMeter homered to dead center field to cut the visitors’ advantage to 3-2 in the second.
But the Colorado bats would grab the momentum right back in the fourth, as Marquez settled in and finished with five hits on 94 pitches, with seven strikeouts and no walks. Blackmon’s RBI double to score Tony Wolters got Colorado’s inning going before Dahl’s two-run shot off Castillo straight down the right-field line extended the advantage to 6-2.
“The second inning Marquez started settling in, and the (rest of the innings) he was aggressively throwing the ball in the zone and getting ahead of guys with no fear,” Wolters said. “When I see the no fear look from Marquez, I know I can put whatever fingers down.
“He let them get themselves out a lot tonight because of that aggressiveness, and I think they felt his mentality.”
Blackmon also had the night’s premier web gem, robbing Winker of a solo home run on a towering fly ball to right-center field. The play elicited a pumped-up reaction from Marquez, who has had outfielding miscues cost him on a number of occasions this year during his starts.
“That was a good feeling,” Marquez said. “I thought it was gone.”
Scott Oberg and Chad Bettis then closed out the victory with scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Colorado plated five insurance runs in the top of the ninth, with Murphy’s bases-clearing double the highlight to give the 34-year-old a career-high-tying six RBIs on the night. The double also gave Murphy 1,500 hits in his major league career.
“It was a great win, and a lot of the heavy lifting was done before my at-bats came up,” Murphy said. “Nolan had good at-bats, Charlie had good at-bats, David had a homer. They were really good at-bats that stacked up in front of me.”