Brighter Shade of Gray: Jon Shines, Gives Rockies a Second-Half Kick Start

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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The Colorado Rockies 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field was a duel between the Grays. The low-scoring affair pitted Rockies pitcher Jon Gray against Reds pitcher Sonny Gray. Both had stellar performances but it was (Jon) Gray and the Rockies who would prevail.

Gray found the strike zone all evening long utilizing a good mix of pitches including a highly effective curveball. 71 of his 98 pitches thrown were for strikes.

Gray lasted 7 innings and gave up four hits, two runs, one home run and struck out six. The Rockies may have been trailing 2-1 when he left the game, but his performance kept the team in the thick of it on a night when their bats weren’t firing.

“Jon did a great job. He was carving them up,” said Rockies outfielder David Dahl. “We felt like we needed to get him the win or at least not get him a loss."

Gray was visibly pleased with his performance and the final result following the victory. He thought that the variety in his pitches was one of the keys to his success.

“We located everything really well and we had a good mix going, so I think that was the key for us tonight,” Gray said.

A stout and at times spectacular defense assisted in Gray’s efforts and produced their fair share of acrobatic highlights. Gray was often able to generate soft contact when the Reds put the ball in play which made playing defense behind him easier.

Gray called the Rockies defense in the game “insane” and credited much of his success to them.

Gray and the defense's work finally paid dividends when Dahl and Daniel Murphy caught fire, hitting home runs in the bottom of the eighth and propelling the Rockies to victory. It was Murphy's eighth home run of the season -- his first at Coors Field.

“It would have been tough (losing) because we pitched really well and it looked as though it might go the other way because we weren't scoring,” said Rockies manger Bud Black. “Here we are with a win and with a couple of big swings at the end."

The victory was a critical one for the Rockies. It snapped a six-game losing streak and brought the team back to .500.

Through the first half of the 2019 season the Rockies offense has carried them. However, Friday's game proved that the Rockies can find other ways to win.

“Even though we didn't hit we won the game because we pitched well,” Black said.

Black added, “It was good to sync it up today where we won a close game when we didn't really swing the bats great until the end.”

Murphy, who hit the game-winning run, spoke highly of the pitchers who he categorized as “lights out.”

After a slow start to the year, Gray has steadily improved and he has begun to showcase why he once the Rockies ace.

In Gray’s last 10 starts dating back to May 22nd, the Rockies are 8-2. Gray was credited with six of those victories. During the same time frame, his ERA of 3.06 is by far the best mark of any of the Rockies starting pitchers.

Gray and German Marquez have been by far the teams most consistent starters this season. Behind them, numerous pitchers have rotated in those spots and been inconsistent at best. The Rockies opening day starter Kyle Freeland will be returning to the roster after a stint in Triple-A. His return to form will be critical to the team's future success.

The Rockies starting pitchers have high hopes for what could be a redemptive second half of the season. They will be the first ones to tell you that the offense has carried the team thus far, but performances like the one Gray had on Friday bode well for a pitching core that has a lot to prove.

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