First-place Rockies complete sweep of struggling Giants
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As if this week couldn’t get much better for Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, he now gets to head home to Orange County and spend his 24th birthday Thursday eating some home cooking by his mother, Millie.
“I don’t know what she’s going to make me. Hopefully it’s something I like,” Arenado said with a smile.
He has earned it, making the catch of his career one night and hitting a three-run homer the next to lead the first-place Rockies past the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
“It’s been cool,” Arenado said. “The main thing about these days is that we’ve been winning. These days aren’t fun if we don’t win. That play I made yesterday, if we don’t win, it’s not as good as it was, and the home run today.”
Tyler Matzek (1-0) outpitched two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, retiring 12 of 13 batters during one stretch. The NL West-leading Rockies extended the best road start in franchise history to 6-0 while sending the reigning World Series champions to a sixth straight defeat.
Charlie Blackmon added a sacrifice fly for the Rockies, who at 7-2 have matched the best nine-game start in franchise history by joining the 1995, ’97 and 2011 clubs.
Matt Duffy hit his first career home run with a solo drive in the eighth off Boone Logan for the Giants. Angel Pagan added an RBI single in the first.
The Rockies won at AT&T Park for the ninth time in 13 games, including a three-game sweep from June 13-15 last year.
Matzek took a little while to find his fastball, then allowed five hits and one run in six innings, struck out two and walked one while earning just his third road victory (3-7) in 12 starts. Just-promoted closer Adam Ottavino finished for the second straight night to get his third career save. He struck out two more in a perfect ninth after striking out the side in order in the ninth Tuesday.
Colorado won eight road games last April, then just 13 the rest of the way. That has been a point of emphasis for manager Walt Weiss’ club.
“If we keep throwing the ball well and stay healthy, there’s no reason we can’t play like this the whole season,” Matzek said.
Lincecum left a slider a little up on Arenado’s two-out drive in the first to dig himself an early hole the Giants couldn’t get out of with their struggling offense.
A night earlier, Arenado made a spectacular falling catch over the tarp and rail in foul territory along the left-field line on Gregor Blanco’s popup. He immediately threw from his knees while still on the tarp and nearly got Angel Pagan at third for a double play. Arenado still had some lingering soreness Wednesday.
“He’s their guy. He’s a nice player and maybe the best defensive third baseman in the game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I haven’t seen a better one. And he hits in the heart of their order.”
Matzek hit Giants leadoff hitter Nori Aoki in the back with his fourth pitch of the game. He then stole his third base before advancing to third on backup catcher Michael McKenry, giving Nick Hundley a breather.
Pagan singled home Aoki moments later.
Aoki went 0 for 3 and had his career-best 17-game hitting streak snapped that dated to Sept. 21 last year.
Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa will make his season debut for Colorado on Monday at Coors Field against San Diego. He made his second rehab appearance Tuesday night for Triple-A Albuquerque while nursing a strained left groin.
Giants: SS Brandon Crawford got a much-needed rest day while mired in an 0-for-21 funk. ... X-rays on the fractured left forearm of Hunter Pence “were fine” according to manager Bruce Bochy and the RF could pick up a bat in about a week, though there isn’t a timetable. ... 3B Casey McGehee could make his home debut after missing four starts with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Rockies: After an off day Thursday in Los Angeles, RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-1) — Colorado’s opening day starter — will make his second road start among his first three outings in the series opener Friday at Dodger Stadium opposite reigning NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
Giants: Bochy will celebrate his 60th birthday Thursday in the opener of a four-game series against Arizona. World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner (1-1) looks to bounce back after being knocked out of the game after just three innings with 10 hits and five runs Saturday at San Diego.