Rockies' Opening Day starter delivers 4 innings of 2-hit ball
By Steve Gilbert and Jesse Sanchez
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies Opening Day starter Kyle Kendrick looked sharp Sunday, allowing just two hits over four strong innings as the Rockies beat the D-backs, 6-0, at Salt River Fields.
D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray was unable to reach four innings, as his pitch count got up to 74 through three. Ray, who is on the edge of the rotation competition, threw four innings in his previous start.
Charlie Blackmon gave the Rockies a lead in the second when he smacked a two-out, two-run double down the right-field line. Colorado added three runs in the fourth to go up 5-0 on Troy Tulowitzki's two-out bases-loaded double to the gap in right-center.
The starting rotation is influx, but Kendrick was on the mark against the D-backs. The veteran right-hander, who spent the past eight seasons with Philadelphia, walked one batter and struck out one. He has allowed three earned runs in five Cactus League starts this spring and is slowly establishing himself as a leader in the clubhouse. It's only March 22, but it's good for the Rockies to have a stabilizing force like Kendrick with questions about the starting rotation increasing.
Tulo in top form: It took only three at-bats for Tulowitzki to remind everyone why pitchers hate to face him in any count, even during Spring Training. The All-Star shortstop saw five pitches in first at-bat -- and actually fell behind 0-2 in the count -- before hitting a single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch. He switched it up in the third inning, hitting the first pitch he saw for another single up the middle. Tulowitzki smashed the bases-clearing double on the sixth pitch he saw during his fourth-inning at-bat.
Returning to action: D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler made his first Cactus League appearance of the spring. Ziegler, who is returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee, allowed a homer to the first batter he faced (Corey Dickerson), but the right-hander managed to get out of the inning without further damage.
First hiccup for A.J.: D-backs reliever A.J. Schugel, who is battling for a spot in the bullpen, saw his scoreless-innings streak come to an end when he allowed three runs in his one inning. All three runs scored on Tulowitzki's double. Prior to that Schugel had not allowed a run in four Cactus League games -- and one exhibition vs. Arizona State University -- spanning six innings.
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Record breaking: The sold out crowd of 13,507 set a single-game record for Salt River Fields, eclipsing the previous mark of 13,126 set Saturday when the Rockies hosted the Dodgers. There have been six sellouts over the last week, and the single-game attendance record has been set three times since March 14.
Anniversary day: One year ago the D-backs opened the 2014 regular season against the Dodgers in Australia. The D-backs played a pair of games in Sydney before returning for a week of Spring Training and a second Opening Day.
"For myself, and I think guys in here, too, we are pretty excited about what we have. If we just keep doing what we are doing, we are going to surprise some people." -- Kendrick
"Robbie was a little bit erratic. The stuff was there. ... The tempo of the game just wasn't very good." -- D-backs manager Chip Hale
Up next for Rockies:Top prospectJon Gray will get the opportunity to show that he deserves a spot in the starting rotation when he takes the mound Monday (2:10 p.m. MT, exclusive audio webcast) against the Brewers at Salt River Fields. There's the belief that the club would like Gray, who spent last season at Double-A, to continue to gain experience in the Minor Leagues, but the injury to De La Rosa and Chacin's unconditional release could pave the way for a rapid rise to the big leagues.
Up next for D-backs: After playing in a Minor League game Sunday, Yasmany Tomas will get the start at third base on Monday (1:05 p.m. MST, MLB.TV) when Arizona takes on the Dodgers in Glendale. Daniel Hudson will start for the D-backs and will try to get to three innings for the first time this spring.