Not at his best, Gray still gives Rox a chance

Not at his best, Gray still gives Rox a chance

MIAMI -- Friday will go down statistically as another solid start, albeit in a 5-1 loss to the Marlins, for Rockies rookie right-hander Jon Gray.

The only two runs Gray allowed in six innings came on Christian Yelich's expert swing for a two-run homer in the sixth -- not bad after spending the whole time searching for his command.

"I just didn't feel great tonight, overall, didn't really have much command," Gray said. "I just had to leave it all out on the field and battle."

Yelich's two-run homer

The wipeout slider that helped him to 68 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings going into Friday didn't show up until well into the game. The fastball command was spotty.

Yet it's hard to pin much of the loss, which ended a four-game win streak and was the Rockies' third in the last 11 games, on Gray. The Rockies managed just one hit, while Gray scattered six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

"It took a few innings for Jonny to settle in, but he was putting up zeros all along, then he found his slider -- his slider was really good," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

Gray pitched around a leadoff walk to Marcell Ozuna in the second and Derek Dietrich's one-out infield single in the second. After Giancarlo Stanton singled with one out in the fourth, Gray preserved some pitches by inducing a double play.

Gray wasn't upset about the Yelich home run, which came on a 2-0 changeup -- a pitch that takes patience and timing to knock over the fence. Dietrich led off with a single to right before Gray forced Martin Prado into a bouncer that was too slow for the infield to turn a double play.

"Him hitting the ball out of the yard was not on my mind right there," Gray said. "It was either him taking it or rolling over, hitting it foul. Hats off to him for that. The real problem was the guy on first."

Ozuna singled and Stanton drew a walk, but grounders from Bour and J.T. Realmuto completed a decent night for Gray. The chance to win eluded the Rockies, however, when reliever Gonzalez Germen gave up a leadoff single to Ichiro Suzuki and coughed up three runs on two hits and a walk in the seventh.

Gray kicked himself for giving up the Rockies' lead after their only hit -- Carlos Gonzalez's double -- led to Ryan Raburn's bases-loaded hit batsman in the sixth. But Gray saw the big picture: He doesn't have to be at his best to give the Rockies a shot to win.

Raburn hit with bases loaded

"I was just tricking myself into competing every time," Gray said. "I was going to make every pitch competitive. I struggled with the strike zone early, but after the first three innings, I did a little better. I was able to get through six innings."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for 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.