SAN DIEGO — Jon Gray was crossing his fingers all week that he’d be able to make his start as scheduled on Friday night.
With the trade deadline just hours before the start of the game, Gray, a free agent after this season, knew there was a chance he could be moved. But as it turns out, the Rockies took their pitcher off the market three days ago.
Gray, now safely a Rockie until at least the end of the season, was ecstatic and relived. He wants to stay in Colorado, and talks have already begun about an extension.
He was all smiles during warmups, happy to still be donning his beloved purple. Gray said he got ready super early, and had a lot of excess energy before the game. He strutted out to the mound on Friday against the Padres, tossing 6.1 innings. The Rockies beat the Padres 9-4.
It started off better than Gray’s last outings have, pitching five scoreless innings. He started to fall in the sixth, when Manny Machado launched a two-run homer off a changeup down the center. Gray’s fastball velocity has ticked up since he went on the injured list, and he topped out at 97.1 mph on Friday. His pitch mix was solid — a combination of fastball, slider and changeup — but he said his secondary pitches were not as sharp as he would have liked. He's still looking to add more curveballs.
"He's been consistent," manager Bud Black said. "He's built on what he's done in his last starts."
Playing without Trevor Story — who was scratched from the lineup after not being traded at the deadline as expected — the Rockies’ put up nine runs through the first eight innings. It’s a lineup, especially an infield, that Story has mentored, as he was preparing them to move forward without him.
Story is indeed still a Rockie, at least for now, but his influence is evident. Brendan Rodgers was one of those mentees. In the offseason, after Nolan Arenado was traded to the Cardinals, Story texted Rodgers to tell him it was his time. With Arenado gone, Rodgers, since he’s been healthy, has become an everyday player, and was expected to take over at shortstop from Story when he was traded.
On Friday night, Rodgers hit one of the Rockies’ three home runs. It was originally ruled a double, but after review was called fan interference and changed to a homer. The kid who caught the ball in the field of play was shown on television crying, and Rodgers was planning to give him a signed bat after the game.
Ryan McMahon hit a grand slam in the first inning, his first home run since June 15. Connor Joe and Elias Díaz also joined the home run party.
"Mac has been a little bit pull happy over the last month," Black said. "If he stays up the middle and stays on pitches, the results that you saw tonight are gong to happen."