SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyler Chatwood stomped behind the mound at AT&T Park and broke the silence with an emphatic, "Yes." It was the odd soundtrack to the Rockies' 2-0 victory Wednesday night over a Giants team fighting for a National League Wild Card spot.
His Rockies leading by two runs in the seventh, Chatwood walked Giants seventh-inning leadoff man, Brandon Belt, to bring the home crowd alive. Then Chatwood forced Buster Posey into a double play to bring the silence that let his voice be heard.
Chatwood repeated that song in the eighth. He walked leadoff man Brandon Crawford, but forced Angel Pagan into another double-play grounder. Chatwood would complete eight scoreless innings with three hits and a season-high nine strikeouts. And, after a seat-of-the-pants ninth that was closed by Adam Ottavino, Chatwood celebrated the Rockies' ninth shutout this season.
This season, his return from a second Tommy John surgery (he had one at age 16), saw Chatwood silence crowds from coast to coast. Overall, his 12-9 record and 3.87 ERA would qualify as a solid season for someone coming off surgery and having to fight through two disabled list stints with back muscle issues.
But on the road, he finished 8-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 80 innings. No one in the Majors with as many innings this season had a better road ERA, and it's the best such figure in Rockies history.
"I've been happy and proud of myself for what I've done this year," said Chatwood, 26, who is heading into his final year of arbitration and should be a key cog in a youthful 2017 rotation. "I'm proud of myself for what I was able to overcome. To finish on that note was awesome."
Chatwood won over an equally electric Giants righty Jeff Samardzija, who struck out 11 and gave up two runs on seven hits.
"I think he put himself on the map with his performance [this year]," Samardzija said.
The back issues, which kept him from locating the ball on his glove side (outside to right-handed hitters, inside to lefties), cost him the second half of June and the second half of August. His location tended to wane at home. But overall, the season showed a couple of good signs: He developed a cut fastball to replace the slider that had been difficult on the elbow, and his fastball velocity increased as the year progressed.
On Wednesday, he pitched with aggressiveness, whether he was going for a strikeout or he needed a grounder. Other than the walks to open the seventh and eighth, he had none.
"He was nasty," catcher Tony Wolters said. "When he pounds the zone and his tempo is quick, he falls in the groove and finds his slot and just goes after guys."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Chatwood's season was "best-case scenario and then some."
Chatwood was happy the Rockies gave him the chance to come back.
"I'm proud of myself, and I thank the Rockies for sticking with me," he said. "After that second [surgery], you never know what you're going to get, and I thank my family for being there the whole time. I had a great support system."