Rockies Use Pitching and Speed in Victory over Athletics

Aaron Schunk of the Rockies stealing second against the Athletics.
(Photo by Evan Thompson/Sport Relay)

Rockies 5, Athletics 1

MESA, Ariz. (Feb. 24) — A deep Michael Toglia home run to the berm in right field, coupled with a three-run outburst in the eighth inning, led the split-squad Colorado Rockies to a 5–1 victory over the host Oakland Athletics in Cactus League play Saturday afternoon at Hohokam Stadium. Rockies starting pitcher Peter Lambert faced one hitter more than the minimum over his two hitless innings, pitching around two walks to hold the Athletics scoreless.

After the Athletics took a 1–0 lead in the third, Toglia led off the fifth with his game-tying homer. Rockies bench coach and acting manager Mike Redmond said of the clout, “Good swing. Our hitting guys have worked so hard with all these guys. We talk about getting your A-swing off. He was able to do that, and you saw the results.”

The Rockies took the lead in the top of the seventh on two hits, one by second baseman Aaron Schunk and the RBI hit by left fielder Jimmy Herron, who batted 2-for-2 on the afternoon. In the eighth, a three-run outburst finalized the score. Three walks, a hit batsman, a sacrifice fly, and a single combined for the scoring.

What Went Right for the Rockies

Efficient Pitching Outings

No Rockies pitcher faced more than four hitters in an inning, with the Athletics only sending three hitters to the plate in six of the nine. The Rockies only allowed two walks, both from Lambert, and one was erased by an inning-ending double play. Aside from a home run (more in a minute), no Oakland Athletic reached second base.

Stealing Bases to Put Pressure on the Opponent

The Rockies stole five bases in the game. Aaron Schunk was the first, putting himself in scoring position for the RBI Herron single in the seventh. The other four thefts came from Herron, Jameson Hannah, Julio Carreras, and Connor Kaiser. Three of the runners who stole bases ultimately scored — Schunk, Hannah, and Carreras.

What Went Right for the Athletics

Oppo Taco

Esteury Ruiz smashed an opposite-field homer to the right-field bullpen to give the Athletics a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the third.

Defensive Gems

Second baseman Hoy Park turned a slick 4–3 double play in the top of the sixth to end the frame. He took a Cole Carrigg grounder, shuffled to his right to step on the bag for the force, and made a strong throw to first to finish it off.

Armando Alvarez, playing third, made a highlight-reel diving catch of a low liner to his right from Carreras. It saved a run and ended the top of the ninth.

Effort from First Two Pitchers

Starting pitcher Joe Boyle and his successor, Joey Estes, tossed two innings each, combining to face one hitter over the minimum. Boyle struck out three, while Estes fanned two. Neither walked anyone.

“I felt confident in my pitches,” Estes said. Overall, my body felt great. … Nothing specific that I worked on today. I was just trying to pound the zone, get ahead of guys. Pretty much all I tried to do was get strikes.”

“I threw everything,” Boyle said about his pitch mix. “After I was done, they had me go throw an extra 15 in the bullpen because they had a pitch count. But I was able to mix everything into the game. Had a runner on, so I was able to mix in some quicker times to the plate. It was good practice, so I was glad I was able to do that. I thought it was a pretty productive day.”

Quotes

“Two zeros, which is always the main goal. Walked a couple guys, (so I) feel like I can fine tune a couple of things going forward.” — Lambert on his outing

“Peter looked good. Solid two innings, threw all his pitches. Had (a couple of walks) in there, but he was able to execute and get through his innings. It’s early in spring, but I thought that was an efficient outing, as with all our pitchers. … All our pitchers pitched really well.” — Redmond on the outings of Lambert and the rest of the pitching staff

“We’re trying to be more aggressive. It’s one thing (to say), ‘Hey, we’re going to be more aggressive,’ but you gotta have the tools. You gotta have the players to be more aggressive. So you saw that with our guys. We’re going to try to push the envelope when we can in a smart way. But it’s fun to see these guys get out and use their abilities and their tools to help us win a ballgame.” — Redmond on the Rockies’ five stolen bases

Looking Ahead

Both the Rockies and Athletics will hit the road Sunday.

The Rockies will head to Maryvale to face the Milwaukee Brewers. A pair of right-handers will start, Karl Kauffmann for the Rockies and Colin Rea for the Brewers. First pitch will be at 1:10 pm Mountain Time.

The Athletics will head to Camelback Ranch in Glendale for an afternoon bout with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Athletics left-hander Kyle Muller will square off with Dodgers right-hander Kyle Hurt. First pitch will be at 1:05 pm Mountain Time.

Main Photo Credits:

MESA, Ariz. (Feb. 24) — Aaron Schunk of the Colorado Rockies steals second base as Oakland Athletics pitcher Danis Correa ducks under the throw from catcher Kyle McCann (not pictured). Second baseman Cooper Bowman awaits the throw. The Rockies defeated the A’s, 5–1, in Cactus League play. (Photo by Evan Thompson/Sport Relay)

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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