Senzatela solid after shaky start

Senzatela solid after shaky start

MILWAUKEE -- Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela celebrated an eventful but successful big league debut Thursday afternoon with a call to his wife, Vanessa Garcia, in Venezuela.

He smiled when recalling what he said: "I'm a big leaguer now."

After his rise as a touted prospect in the Rockies' system -- one who pitched well enough this spring to make the rotation, despite having just seven Double-A starts last season -- his performance in the Rockies' 2-1 victory over the Brewers offered examples of why the team always thought he would be one.

Senzatela, 22, escaped the bases loaded in the first inning by forcing a Domingo Santana double-play grounder, overcame accidentally hitting the Brewers' Keon Broxton in the face with a 92.6 mph fastball in the second and ultimately struck out six in five scoreless innings.

Senzatela induces double play

Not one given to showing emotion, Senzatela understandably fist-pumped after inducing the double play on a 96.8 mph fastball.

"I tell pitchers all the time there are going to be stress points during the game, even in good games … a point in that game where there are runners on, less than a couple outs, and you've got to work out of it," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Today, for him, it was in the first inning -- which is not ideal, in your Major League debut.

"But he made a pitch to Santana to get the double play, which is great. DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story turned it magnificently. I think that let him exhale."

After the one-out hits in the first -- an Eric Thames single and Jesus Aguilar double that found grass -- Senzatela dealt with just three baserunners. One was Travis Shaw on a walk before the double play. He mixed fastballs of varying speeds -- anywhere from the 91-92 range to near 97 -- with sliders and changeups that produced fly balls and otherwise weak contact.

"He's super-calm," said third baseman Nolan Arenado, whose ninth-inning home run won the game. "It looked like he's been out there a couple times already. He laid a couple great bunts, he competed."

Broxton hit in the face by pitch

It took all of Senzatela's composure to overcome hitting Broxton with a 2-2 pitch that simply slipped. It seemed to tick off the cheek/jaw extension -- known as a "C-flap" on Broxton's batting helmet.

"I felt bad when I hit him in the face," Senzatela said. "I said, 'Bad pitch. I don't want that.' But it's the game. It's hard but I just said I need to finish my game here, then see.

"I already talked to him. He told me he's OK. He's fine."

Broxton was diagnosed with a slight nasal fracture and took stitches, but officially is listed as day to day and not ticketed for the disabled list. Thank you, C-flap.

"The crazy thing about it is I was thinking about taking it off a couple days ago, too, and then this happens," Broxton said.

Through it all, Senzatela stayed cool.

"I throw like that -- quiet, no big emotions," Senzatela said.

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.

Adam McCalvy contributed to this story.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.