What the Rockies like about German Marquez is the competitor he becomes when he takes the mound.
What they like about Marquez is his total focus is on winning – for the team.
And what transpired on Sunday afternoon at the ballpark once known as AT&T Park in San Francisco underscored everything they thought about Marquez.
With one out in the eighth inning, Marquez got ahead in the count to Giants third baseman Evan Longoria 0-2, but the next pitch, a slider, didn’t quite slide enough, and Longoria slipped a ground ball between third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Trevor Story, ending Marquez’s no-hit bid.
After making a diving, but unsuccessful effort to stop the ball, Arenado slammed his glove into the dirt. The Rockies loyalists shook their heads in disappointment.
He took a fresh ball, and went back to work. He finished off a 4-0 victory that snapped the Rockies eight-game losing streak. He retired the final five Giants batters of the game, including striking out two. And it did with only 17 pitches, 12 of which were strikes.
So often, a pitcher will see a no-hitter slip away, and suffer an emotional letdown.
Not Marquez. Not on Sunday. Not close.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Marquez explained. “I wasn’t thinking about it. I just went out trying to do my best and compete.”
But a no-hitter, something that has happened only once in franchise history – Ubaldo Jimenez in Atlanta on April 17, 2010 – wasn’t a focus?
“It was a great game,” said Marquez. “It means a lot, not just because of the losing streak. I think we are over it now. I was happy for the shutout. I was happy for the win.”
And truth be told, even though he did give up that ground ball single, and he did hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch in the sixth inning, he arguably did the best job of shutting down an opposing team in Rockies history. He faced only 29 batters, the fewest batters faced by a Rockies’ pitcher in a complete-game effort.
“He was cool and calm,” manager Bud Black said of Marquez. “We talk about the evolution of some of our younger pitchers and that is part of it. Their poise. How they handle things good or bad.”
Jimenez? He walked six Braves that night at Turner Field and faced 31 batters.
The one-hitter marked the second fewest hits allowed by a Rockies pitcher in a complete game and was one of just 10 times in the team’s 4,166 regular season games that a Rockies pitched a complete game of at least eight innings and allowed two or fewer hits.
What’s more Marquez’s effort came at a critical time for a Rockies team that opened the season 16 games ago with expectations of battling the Dodgers for the NL West title, but went into Sunday at the bottom of the NL West standings, burdened with an eight-game losing streak. They saw that stopped thanks to Marquez allowing them to enjoy just their fourth win of the season, tied with the Marlins for the fewest wins in MLB.
What’s more, Marquez registered all 27 outs, the first complete-game effort in Major League Baseball this year, and the first complete-game effort by a Rockies pitcher in 729 days, dating back to Tyler Chatwood’s two-hit effort at San Francisco on April 15, 2017.
It was only the 14th time since the start of the 2011 season that a Rockies’ pitcher threw a complete game of eight or more innings, and allowed two or fewer hits.
“He’s a great competitor,” said Arenado. “He wants the ball every time. It’s fun to play defense behind him. (Sunday) he was unreal. He was really nasty. “
And now the Rockies can look to build a winning streak. They are off to the worst start in franchise history, but they are only 6 ½ games back of the division-leading Padres, just 4 ½ behind the second-place Dodgers, considered the team to beat in the division.
It's the 11th time in franchise history the Rockies have been below .500 after the first 16 games of a season. Their 4-12 record may be the worst ever, but it's only one less loss than 2009 when a 5-11 Rockies team rallied to claim a wild-card spot in the post-season. And their miracle year of 2007, when they advanced to the World Series for the only time in franchise history, saw the Rockies with a 7-9 record, and in fourth place 16 games into the season.