Nicasio, Ellis lead Rockies to 9-0 win over Royals
Saturday, July 2, 2011
DENVER (AP) — Mark Ellis and Juan Nicasio put on quite a show, maybe even upstaging the fireworks display that drew the capacity crowd to Coors Field in the first place.
Ellis had three hits, including a two-run homer, in his Colorado debut and Nicasio allowed three singles over eight innings as the Rockies beat the slumping Kansas City Royals 9-0 on Friday night.
Even Ellis couldn’t have envisioned this type of start to his career in the Mile High City. He finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in three runs.
“A beautiful night, a sellout crowd and we won, 9-0. A perfect night,” said Ellis, who was acquired from Oakland on Thursday.
It had to be the cleats.
Before the game, Ellis asked Troy Tulowitzki if he could borrow a pair of the smooth-fielding shortstop’s black-and-purple shoes, even inquiring if they might come with some of Tulowitzki’s tremendous power inside them.
Tulowitzki said they didn’t possess any extra pop.
But Tulowitzki was mistaken. Ellis hit a liner in the fifth that just crept over the wall in left.
“Just see the ball and hit the ball,” explained Ellis, who hit his second homer of the season. “That’s what I try to do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Tulowitzki connected on a two-run homer, Todd Helton added a two-run double and pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon lined the first homer of his major league career — on his 25th birthday, no less — to help the Rockies snap a two-game slide.
Nicasio (3-1) struck out four and got the Royals to hit into 16 groundouts. With his pitch count at 111, the rookie righty was pulled in the ninth for reliever Edgmer Escalona, who was just called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday.
Nicasio improved to 3-0 at Coors Field, lowering his ERA to 2.08 at the notoriously hitter-friendly park. Although this field may haunt some pitchers, it forces Nicasio to bear down.
“I’m able to focus more on throwing things down in the strike zone,” Nicasio said through his interpreter, Ubaldo Jimenez. “For sure, that was the best game that I have thrown.”
Only one Kansas City runner reached as far as second base all night, and that wasn’t until two outs in the ninth.
Danny Duffy (1-3) couldn’t break the Royals out of their funk as the team dropped its fourth straight. Duffy lasted five innings, allowing five runs and nine hits. He struck out six.
The lefty had trouble locating his fastball, leaving pitches up to Ellis and Tulowitzki, who both laced homers.
“I made a couple of mistakes. I thought I threw the ball pretty well, I just didn’t come out on top today,” Duffy said.
Ellis started things off on the right foot, collecting a single in his first at bat.
It was simply that kind of game for Ellis.
He also played flawless second base, already developing quite a chemistry with Tulowitzki as the tandem turned a nifty double play early in the game.
The Rockies acquired Ellis, along with cash, from Oakland on Thursday for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later.
They are banking on him to provide consistency at second base, something the team has sorely missed all season. They have trotted out Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young Jr. and Jose Lopez, who’s since been let go.
Nelson and Young were optioned to Colorado Springs before the game.
Helton finished with four hits, including the 542nd double of his career. He’s tied with Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann for 25th place on all-time list.
Nicasio has been a pleasant surprise for the Rockies since being called up from Double-A Tulsa in late May. What was billed as an audition has pretty much turned into a permanent spot in the rotation.
With plenty of movement on all his pitches, Nicasio has been difficult for the opposition to hit this season. He also boasts a fastball that hovers around 94 mph.
“He threw the ball very well, he threw his fastball for strikes, got in on us, kept the ball down,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The strike zone was a tiny strike zone and he did a good job of keeping the ball in it. He threw more breaking balls for strikes than I thought he would.
“He’s got good stuff. He’s a good young pitcher.”
The Rockies had to shuffle around their rotation after their top pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, experienced some tightness in his right forearm.
Chacin will have his scheduled start Saturday pushed back until Tuesday. To take his place, the Rockies will recall Greg Reynolds from Colorado Springs.
The 23-year-old Chacin is 8-5 with a 3.10 ERA. Rockies manager Jim Tracy doesn’t want to take any chances, especially in light of losing lefty Jorge De La Rosa with a season-ending elbow injury.
“We could ill afford to lose a guy like this,” Tracy said.
NOTES: Tulowitzki has homered in consecutive games. ... With a crowd of 48,282 on hand for baseball and fireworks, the Rockies had their fourth sellout of the season. ... Ellis’ other homer this season was on May 28 against Baltimore. ... The Royals finished with four hits, getting one in the ninth off Escalona.
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