It is rare that a Colorado win would be headlined by a pitcher, but Juan Nicasio pitched a gem Saturday afternoon in Atlanta as the Rockies got by the Braves 3-1. Nicasio threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up just two hits, walking four and striking out five Atlanta batters.
It was an atonement of sorts for the 27-year-old from the Dominican Republic, as his last trip to Turner Field resulted in eight runs on 10 hits in an 11-3 loss last summer. It could be argued that Nicasio is gradually becoming the ace of the Rockies’ staff. In his last five appearances he has three wins, one loss and one no-decision. He leads the staff with five wins, and his 3.61 ERA is second only to Jordan Lyles’ 3.45.
For the Rockies, it was the perfect time for a solid performance on the mound. Their MLB-leading offense had failed to score more than two runs in four straight road games, and they barely eclipsed that mark on Saturday. Two of Colorado’s runs were scored on solo home runs against Braves’ starter Mike Minor. The first was by Michael Cuddyer in the second inning, his fifth of the year. The second homer was a Troy Tulowitzki blast to left field in the sixth inning. It was Tulo’s league-leading 14th home run of the year. The Rockies’ third run came when third baseman Charlie Culberson scored on a fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Charlie Blackmon in the seventh.
Culberson had a good day filling in for injured third baseman Nolan Arenado, who broke his finger Friday night sliding into second base. Culberson finished the day 2 for 4 from the plate with a double and a strikeout, and it looks like he will get a lot of work at that position. Arenado is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks. Tulowitzki was the only other Colorado batter with more than one hit, going 2 for 3 from the plate and raising his season average to .382. Even though he was only 1 for 4 on Saturday, Cuddyer has been hot since returning from a hamstring injury. Last year’s NL batting champ is hitting .350 with two homers and a double in 5 games.
The Rockies were without left fielder Carlos Gonzalez again, as the power-hitter sat out another game with inflammation in his index finger on his left hand. The injury report states only that Gonzalez could return “any day.”
The last time the Rockies went on a road trip to the east coast was their first series of the season in Miami, where they lost three out of four to the Marlins.The Rockies have now evened their three-game set with the Braves at one game apiece, with the rubber game on Sunday. Franklin Morales (3-3, 5.30 ERA) will be on the mound for Colorado against Julio Teheran (3-3, 1.92 ERA) for the Braves. Sunday’s game will be the third of a nine-game road stretch for the Rockies which will also take them to Philadelphia and Cleveland.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Colorado Rockies