Jon Grey, Rockies try to roll on in Arizona

06/30/2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray (55) pitches in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

7/5/2021 22:48:13 GMT + 00: 00 – Jon Gray has a lot of experience pitching at Chase Field in Phoenix, but the most disappointing memory is his start in the National League wildcard game in 2017.

Known as the ace of the Colorado Rockies that year, Gray got the nod in Colorado’s first playoff game in eight years and things didn’t go well. He allowed four runs and seven hits in just 1 1/3 innings and took the defeat in the 11-8 victory of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The right-hander has struggled at times since then, but he makes his 16th career start against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in Arizona on a high note. In two starts since his return from the injured list with a right flexor load, Gray has allowed only two 11 innings with 15 strikeouts.

That continued a series of strong starts through the Rockies rotation. In the just-completed seven-game home stand, the Colorado starters had an ERA of 1.57 to lead the team to a 6-1 mark in those games.

Now the challenge is to take it on the streets where the Rockies are only 6-31 this season. Gray (5-6, 3.89 ERA) will be fought in the first of three games by Arizona’s right-hander Merrill Kelly (5-7, 4.67).

In his career against the Diamondbacks, Gray is 5-6 with a 5.01 ERA, including 4-3 with a 3.60 ERA in seven starts at Chase Field. This season he’s 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against them, which includes six innings with no ball in his second start of the season.

While the grid was solid throughout the season, Colorado hitters struggled on the road. One who hasn’t had a problem lately is catcher Elias Diaz, who had two walk-off hits against St. Louis over the weekend, including a triple homer on Thursday night.

“He is in a good position,” said manager Bud Black of Diaz. “We’ve seen it for the past few weeks. It shows with the long ball … It takes a really good, short shot.”

Playing in Arizona is Colorado’s best chance to break its road record. The Diamondbacks are in a two month crisis that has left them with the worst record in baseball. Since an 8-4 win over the Rockies on May 2 that put Arizona two games over .500, the Diamondbacks have hit a shocking 8-50.

You lost 23 straight road games in one go and are on a three-game skid headed for Tuesday night. Kelly will try to stop it against a team he has struggled with since entering the majors in 2019. He is 1-3 with an ERA of 7.06 in five career starts against Colorado.

Arizona’s representative at the All-Star Game in Denver next week is Eduardo Escobar, who was named to the NL squad on Sunday. It is the first time in his eleven-year career that he is on the squad.

Escobar leads the Diamondbacks with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs.

“I’m so happy. I work hard every year for this opportunity to go to the All-Star Game,” said Escobar on Sunday. “Today is a special day for me, for my wife, for my family and for my teammates. I will represent Arizona and that is the most important thing.”

–Field-level media

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