Estevez relishes facing baseball's best bats

Estevez relishes facing baseball's best bats

DENVER -- Because the Rockies trust him to protect late leads, rookie right-handed relief pitcher Carlos Estevez lives on the highlight reel.

On Saturday, the highlight belonged to the Giants' Buster Posey, who turned a one-run lead into a deficit with a three-run homer off Estevez in the Rockies' 10-5 loss. But Estevez won the previous two confrontations with Posey and has more than held his own against the game's toughest hitters in the biggest situations.

Estevez (1-2, 5.28 ERA) entered Sunday having held opponents to a .211 batting average with 15 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings and no inherited runners scoring. The identities of those he has faced bring a smile to his face.

"Oh, David Ortiz -- that was nice," said Estevez, a Dominican Republic native who had five family members with him on the field before Sunday's game with the Giants. "I went fastball up and in, fly ball to third.

"Yasiel Puig, I struck him out. I faced [Paul] Goldschmidt and he's 1-for-2, double down the line and a broken-bat fly ball to second. Andrew McCutchen, fly ball to left; Starling Marte, ground ball to shortstop. Francisco Cervelli, he got a single off me but I have a strikeout and two ground balls. David Freese, I struck him out twice. I've faced a lot of good guys."

Posey's second three-run homer

The fact manager Walt Weiss keeps coming to Estevez is making every day a blast.

"Before this, I was in Triple-A, I was just getting innings in, but now I know I'm a piece of a winning team that we're building here," said Estevez, who was unlikely to pitch Sunday after working three straight days. "They trust me. They need me to get those outs. Unluckily, yesterday it didn't happen, but I know they'll keep going to me.

"It still hurts, but we know this is a game of failure. I've just got to keep my head up. Posey got me that time. I got him before, twice. That's how the game works."

• Before the Rockies took the lead Saturday, veteran righty Jason Motte was up in the bullpen with Estevez. Once the Rockies took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, the eighth belonged to Estevez. Yes, Motte has more experience and is under a two-year, $10 million contract. But Motte has made just one appearance after missing the early part of the season with a right shoulder strain.

"Motte's going to be in the heat, he's going to be in high-leverage situations, but he's got one outing," Weiss said. "I didn't want to throw him into the fire first time out at Coors Field, trying to protect a one-run lead when you've got Estevez sitting there ready to go. It wouldn't have made any sense."

• Rockies catcher Nick Hundley, on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, will soon go on a Minor League rehab and could rejoin the team during a road trip that starts Friday. ... Righty Christian Bergman (left oblique strain) and lefty Boone Logan (left shoulder inflammation) played catch for the first time Sunday.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.