Late Arenado HR lifts Rockies over Brewers

Late Arenado HR lifts Rockies over Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Nolan Arenado told reporters on Thursday morning he felt OK, but added, "I know there's a better feeling in there that I'm looking for." He found that feeling in the ninth inning.

Arenado homered off an 0-2 pitch from Brewers closer Neftali Feliz leading off the ninth for a 2-1 Rockies win at Miller Park, giving Rockies rookie starter Antonio Senzatela something else to celebrate in the wake of Senzatela's scoreless Major League debut.

"I saw him [Feliz] last year with the Pirates, but he's throwing a lot harder than he did then," said Arenado, who doubled in his only other plate appearance against Feliz. "I tried to shorten up with two strikes. I didn't crush it or anything. He produced the power."

Statcast™ supports Arenado. Feliz's fastball was clocked at 97 mph. Exit speed off Arenado's bat -- which sent the sphere into the Brewers' bullpen -- was 98.

It was the first homer of the season for Arenado, who tied the Brewers' Chris Carter for the National League home run crown last year with 41. Arenado also tied the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the 2015 home run title with 42.

Arenado said he "just missed" on his first at-bat, a fly ball to deep center. But he kept searching.

"Early in the year, there's going to be some tension until you get rolling, until you get your hits, until you get your homer," Rockies manager Bud Black said.

"He was trying to go up. It was up. That's where Neftali pitches," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's Arenado. You hate to get beat on 0-2. I don't think it was a terrible pitch, he just put a good swing on it. Not much different really than the swing [Ryan] Braun puts on the last ball of the game."

Braun, appearing as a pinch-hitter, flew out to deep right field to finish the Rockies' series victory, three games to one.

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Senzatela did not allow a Brewers hit after the first inning and did not allow a run in any of his five innings of work, and former Brewer Mark Reynolds capped a torrid series with a third-inning solo home run off Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson. Reynolds went 7-for-14 with five extra-base hits in the four games, helping the Rockies overcome relatively quiet starts for the top third of their lineup. Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez were a combined 5-for-47.

Reynolds' solo home run

"Maybe the series of his life?" Anderson said of Reynolds, whose Milwaukee tenure preceded Anderson's. "That was good. Solid. Very consistent each day. I thought I made a pretty decent pitch, and when he gets the barrel on the bat, it's going to go a long way.

"That's a pretty good team. Very balanced. Guys with a lot of power from top to bottom. That's a tough lineup to navigate."

Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Brewers after Anderson delivered Milwaukee's first quality start of the season, working six innings and allowing one run on three hits including the Reynolds homer.

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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First-inning escape: Senzatela was tested with one out in the first when Eric Thames singled and Jesus Aguilar doubled -- both on hits to the left-field corner with Gerardo Parra positioned far off the line. But Senzatela responded with a 96.8-mph fastball on a 2-2 count that forced Domingo Santana to ground into a double play. Senzatela threw five scoreless innings, with six strikeouts against two hits and three walks.

Senzatela K's six in MLB debut

Senzatela became the third pitcher in Rockies history to yield two or fewer hits when starting his Major League debut. Juan Acevedo gave up one in five innings on April 30, 1995 at Houston, and Drew Pomeranz yielded two hits in five innings against the Reds on Sept. 11, 2011, at Coors Field. More >

Black wants Rockies aggressive on bases

Lift off for Captain Kirk: The Brewers went hitless after Aguilar's double until the seventh, when Nieuwenhuis, a second-inning replacement for Keon Broxton who was hit in the head by a pitch, hammered a one-out home run to right-center field off Adam Ottavino that tied the game at 1-1. Nieuwenhuis can't quite explain why he has so much success hitting at Miller Park, but the numbers are stark: Last season, he hit .290 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 169 at-bats at home, versus .127 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 166 at-bats on the road.

Nieuwenhuis' solo homer

"I thought we swung the bats pretty well today, especially early in the game," said Counsell. "We had some good at-bats and hit some balls hard but right at people."

QUOTABLE
"That's part of it. You just have to keep a positive mind and move forward." -- Feliz, on the ups and downs of life as a closer. He'd recorded his first Brewers save, and No. 100 of his career, the night before.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Arenado loves Miller Park. He has hit safely in all 10 games there, and composed a .436 average (17-for-39) with five doubles, four home runs, 11 RBIs and four walks.

UPON REVIEW
Not so fast, Parra. Leading off the seventh, a pitch from Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes bounced just by Parra's right foot. Possibly feeling a vibration, possibly applying gamesmanship, Parra dropped his bat and headed to first base. But home-plate umpire Alan Porter didn't think the pitch hit him and conferred with his partners. Bud Black issued a challenge but after a 1-minute, 11-second review, Porter's call of a ball was confirmed. Parra went on to strike out.

Parra not HBP after challenge

BREWERS' BROXTON EXITS
Broxton, a budding talent for Milwaukee, walked off the field under his own power in the second inning after being struck in the face by a Senzatela fastball. Broxton suffered a small nasal fracture and needed stitches, but is day to day. He was fortunate to be wearing a batting helmet fitted with a face guard.

"That C-flap, man, that thing just saved my life," Broxton said. More >

WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies:
The Rockies will celebrate their 25th home opener -- the 23rd at Coors Field -- with a Denver native on the mound. Lefty Kyle Freeland, who went to Thomas Jefferson High School and was selected in the first round out of the University of Evansville -- starts against the Dodgers and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Friday at 2:10 p.m. MT.

Brewers: Miller Park will be packed on Friday for a 7:10 p.m. CT weekend series opener between the Brewers and the world champion Cubs, who have yet to debut at home and should draw a healthy dose of fans for these three games. Jimmy Nelson starts for Milwaukee against Chicago newcomer Brett Anderson, a lefty.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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.