Kid Senzation won his fifth game, beat the World Champions and outdueled a Cy Young Award recipient Tuesday afternoon.
"That's special," he said and smiled.
Antonio Senzatela has been very especial for the Rockies this season. The rookie right-hander with the right stuff has permitted 0, 1, 2 or 3 earned runs in six of his seven starts. In four starts at Coors Field, Tony Terrific has a 3-1 record and a 3.12 ERA.
Through May 9 of a season in Rockies' history, only Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010 got off to a stronger stretch at 6-1. And he ended up with 19 victories.
I'm not suggesting the 22-year-old can duplicate that, but manager Bud Black said his wunderkind managed to survive with a weak strike-to-ball ratio in 99 pitches. He showed what he's made of in the fourth inning when the Cubs had three straight hitters reach - but Senzatela was nicked for only one run while inducing a pop out, a force out and a fly out.
"OK, my time," Senzatela said. "Quality pitches right there, and my teammates help me."
He wasn't overwhelmed by the moment against the almighty Cubs and a sparse crowd (because of the rainout the night before) dominated by Chicago fanatics. Kid Senzation turned the Cubs' compelling lineup of boomers into deep-dish tools. Meanwhile, the Rockies' defense was magnificent with Trevor Story, then Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado making major-league plays.
And the Rockies' offense torched one of the best pitchers in baseball, Jake Arrieta, who Senzatela aspires to be like. Both arrived at the game with identical records, although Arrieta had won 44 games in 2015-2017 and Antonio 4.
The Cubs' starter endured for only 3 2/3 innings, joining all the other imposing National League starters on the Walk of Shame to the visitors' dugout in LoDo. The Rockies would win the doubleheader opener in a walk 10-4 with a season-pinnacle 15 hits. The Rox continue to lead the division and have matched 1997's club-best 33-game beginning (21-12).
Ryan Hanigan, the Rox recent call-up catcher working with Senzatela for the first time, was duly impressed. "He's a big guy with big legs and a great arm, and his fastball has different kinds of movement," said the 38-year-old Hanigan, who's seen a few pitchers. "He attacks down in the zone, and with an arm like that, he can get away with mistakes."
The Rockies dropped the second game, 8-1.
Black called Senzatela's effort "rocky," but "he had resiliency." Black became rather fond of the 6-1, 180-pound pitch pounder in spring training, especially after hearing reports from team scouts and seeing what the young man had accomplished since being a teenager in the club's minor league system.
At 19, he had an amazing 15-2 record in Single A ball at Asheville in 2014.
Rolando Fernandez, the Rockies' vice president of international scouting and a treasure discoverer, first witnessed Senzatela when he was 15 in Valencia, Venezuela, and signed him a year later for the princely sum of $250,000 - but the kid had to finish school.
At 17, Antonio was 5-2 in the Dominican League and developing a curve ball and a changeup to accompany his speed pitch, which now reaches 98 miles per hour. He was in the United States the next season and advanced until injury and his mother's serious illness sent him home. His top supporter soon died of cancer.
As Antonio crossed the first base line Tuesday after completing six innings, he pointed to the brightening sky to acknowledge Nidya.
He will start again, appropriately, on Mother's Day.
It was assumed in early spring Senzatela would return to Double A or be promoted to Albuquerque.
Instead, on Tuesday, Senzatela was "happy" that he made the big-league roster, happy that he was named a starting pitcher, happy that he won four games, happy that he was named National League Rookie of the Month, happy that he got a chance to pitch against the Cubs and Arrieta - "good guy, great pitcher who won Cy Young" and very happy that he had just won again.
Fernando Venezuela? Kid Senzation? Cy Young Man?
Antonio Senzatela, special young Rockies pitcher.