The Rockies are only as good as their starting pitcher. Lately, that means they haven't been great.
But it seems that a trip to the Bay Area provided the change they needed. Starting pitching was expected to be their best position group, yet it's been their Achilles heel this season — they've consistently had the fifth highest ERA in the league.
That all changed in San Francisco this week. On Tuesday, Germán Márquez put together his best start in weeks, giving up just three earned runs in the Rockies' win. Antonio Senzatela followed that on Wednesday, allowing only one run. And Austin Gomber closed out the series Thursday, pitching six innings and giving up two runs as the Rockies beat the Giants 4-2.
"I think that all of us starting pitching-wise got tired of not pitching well and definitely tired of not pitching well here," Gomber said. "It was time that it needed to change. I think you saw the intensity that everyone took the mound with this series, we weren't going to let it happen anymore. We've obviously not been performing up to our standards."
It was the Rockies first series win in San Francisco since June 24 to 26, 2019. The wins were needed considering their performance lately — they were swept at home by the Braves last weekend and had gone 7-20 since May 8 prior to this series.
Gomber has not fared well at Oracle Park in his career — he had a 10.90 ERA in five previous starts against the Giants in San Francisco — and has struggled in his last two starts, giving up a combined 17 runs. Gomber was sharp on Thursday. His fastball averaging two miles per hour faster than usual, even elevating it at times to get swings and misses. He used his entire arsenal, and his slider worked for him. He got eight out of his 18 outs on three pitches or less.
"Obviously you get tired of pitching bad," Gomber said. "This is a place that I have not had my best outing in the past. For me, it was time to put a stop to it. That was the mindset I went out with today. I'm tired of struggling and I just wanted to pitch well."
He gave up a lead-off triple to Austin Slater, but rebounded to strike out Wilmer Flores and Mike Yastrzemski. The only two runs Gomber allowed came in the second as the Giants strung together back-to-back RBI triples.
His offense helped out, scoring three runs in the fourth to take the lead. The Giants gave up three rare errors that inning — something they haven't done since 2010 — and the Rockies took full advantage. Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon and Yonathan Daza put together consecutive RBI singles. They added an insurance run in the seventh off another single from McMahon.
The Rockies bullpen wasn't able to rely on their top duo of Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard, but it got the job done. Robert Stephenson gave up only one hit in the seventh, striking out Joc Pederson on a 99.7 MPH fastball, the fastest pitch of his career. Carlos Estévez pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and Alex Colomé earned the save.
"It was huge," Ryan McMahon said to AT&T Sports. "Being in it in all three games in this ballpark is huge. Our starters were great, our bullpen was amazing. I thought we hit well enough to win so that's all that matters."