Germán Márquez creeped back into his old habits Saturday.
After starting the season with command issues, especially with his fastball, Márquez found his groove. In his previous four starts, he had allowed three total runs.
But Saturday, his delivery was reminiscent of those rough outings early in the season. His fastball was once again too high, especially early in the game, his slider too low and flat. He gave up 12 hits and eight earned runs in five innings, as the Reds defeated the Rockies 10-3.
"Rough outing," Márquez said. "I have to take that outing off my brain and be ready for the next one."
There were signs from the beginning that Saturday was not going to be Márquez’s day. And the Reds, a hot-hitting team, didn't make things any easier. Five out of his first six pitches were balls, and he walked the Reds’ leadoff batter Jonathan India on five pitches. The Reds thrived on softly hit singles, and took advantage of Márquez getting behind in the counts. The Reds scored two in the first, two in the third and three in the fifth. Márquez said that the heat and humidity did impact him — Cincinnati had a feel-like temperature of close to 100 during the game — but that he can't use that as an excuse.
"I think from pitch to pitch there wasn’t a consistency of location," manager Bud Black said. "The fastball had its normal velocity, but he wasn’t hitting his spots nearly as normal as he needed to. Slider was good at times, but the frequency was not there."
It was the third day in a row that the Rockies got a suboptimal performance from a starting pitcher, the position group that was hailed as the hallmark of an otherwise inexperienced team. Chi Chi González allowed 11 hits and eight runs Thursday in Miami, and Kyle Freeland gave up five home runs Friday. Those marks were career-highs for González and Freeland.
"They have probably been the strength of our team, the consistent part of our group," Black said of the rotation. "The last three games that hasn't happened. Over 162 you are going to run into games like that. You are not going to see it much from our guys, but right now you are seeing it."
Rockies pitchers have been far better at home than on the road this season, a statistic that has Black stumped. They have a combined 4.41 ERA at Coors Field, a hitter's park that can be difficult to pitch at because of the altitude, and 5.6 ERA on the road. They have allowed 10 or more runs on the road four times.
It doesn’t help when the offense gives them little support. Despite scoring three runs in the second inning — off an RBI single from Connor Joe and an RBI double from Elias Diaz — the Rockies went six straight innings without scoring to close the game.