Senzatela seizes control, sizzles for 7th win

Rockies rookie blanks Cards over career-high 8 innings

Senzatela seizes control, sizzles for 7th win

DENVER -- Rockies rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela didn't want to merely live by the fastball. He wanted to pitch with a pinpoint fastball.

After two games of less-than immaculate fastball command, Senzatela found his aim Friday night and buzzed through the Cardinals for a career-high eight innings in the Rockies' 10-0 victory at Coors Field.

The fastball was so spot-on that it made his best secondary pitch -- his slider -- devastating. He used it all four times when he extracted double-play grounders from Cardinals hitters.

Senzatela (7-1), who is tied with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the Astros' Dallas Keuchel and the Twins' Ervin Santana for the Majors' lead in wins, had labored in his last two starts. He went five innings and gave up four runs in each. But Senzatela, 22, knew the fix was simple.

"My last bullpen [session], I tried to throw the ball down," Senzatela said. "It comes back to fastball command. I had it today."

The first time through the order, Senzatela threw his fastball for 35 of the 40 pitches. Because he hit both sides of the plate, the Cardinals had to be in swing mode. That made them ripe for double-play grounders.

"Obviously there's a bit of deception or extra life that he has," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He used a lot of hard fastballs, pounding the strike zone, and just swings that were just off.

"Every time we'd get something going, he was able to put enough of something different that would get a ground ball, and they had four double plays. That counts for a lot of putting out fires. We just couldn't get much going."

Senzatela had plenty of help.

Mark Reynolds made a difficult flip to Senzatela covering first to retire Dexter Fowler and end the sixth inning with a runner at third. Left fielder Ian Desmond and third baseman Nolan Arenado made nice grabs to prevent hits in the seventh and eighth, respectively. Shortstop Trevor Story and second baseman DJ LeMahieu pivoted some difficult double plays.

Reynolds recovers to get Fowler

The fact that Senzatela appreciated the defensive help impressed center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who finished a double shy of the cycle and helped Senzatela with three RBIs.

"He's super mature," Blackmon said. "You see him in the dugout, he's always in control. He's complimentary to his teammate. He's not just totally locked in, absorbed in himself. He's trying to win the game, and he cares about everybody else."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

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