DENVER — All Jon Gray needed to pitch his best was a bundle of bananas.
The Rockies starting pitcher had to be removed after the fifth inning with full-body cramps during his last start on Saturday. He didn’t eat enough carbs at breakfast that day. He usually has three bananas a day, but on Saturday he had none. He also didn’t have mustard nearby, a condiment his high school football coach had him ingest during practice if he had any cramps.
On Thursday, with his diet in order, Gray pitched seven innings and held the Diamondbacks hitless through most of that. The Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks 7-3, earning their second straight victory and first series win of the season.
After his last start, Gray rehydrated, then got back to work. After 24 hours, the cramps didn’t impact him anymore and he was able to do his normal between start routines. His fastball wasn't overwhelming, topping out at 94.5 miles per hour, but it got better as the day went on. His slider, his most-used pitch on Thursday, was very effective.
"I thought the mix of pitches were key for Jon," manager Bud Black said. "All in all, I thought it was a well pitched game. He followed up what he did last week, which was great."
On Thursday, Gray had a peanut banana sandwich and ate snacks in the dugout during the game. He said he felt terrible when he woke up on Thursday, and he was throwing to the left during his bullpen. He used the first inning as another warm-up.
Whatever it was, Gray got over it fast. He had five strikeouts, including his 700th career K in the third inning. He didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning, when David Peralta hit a triple to center field. He allowed another hit and a walk before he was removed with two outs in the seventh. The crowd gave him two standing ovations — the first after he allowed the triple and the second when he came off the mound.
"I’m having a good time," Gray said. "I’m competing and doing my best each time, enjoying baseball no matter the results. It’s been a good start to the year in terms of having fun and staying loose."
For the second game in a row, the pieces came together for the Rockies. A day after breaking their four game losing streak, where they made some mistakes but were never out of any games, the Rockies offense once again came up big.
Trevor Story escaped his mild slump. Manager Bud Black predicted Thursday morning that Story was ‘this close’ to going on a hot streak, and Story backed up his manager's assessment by hitting an RBI double and a triple. Dom Nuñez hit his third home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth. Rockies catchers had only hit a combined two home runs last year. Garrett Hampson showed off his speed again, stealing his fourth base in two days.
Carlos Estévez, who struggled during spring training, gave up a home run, a double and two walks in the bottom of the ninth before he was replaced by Daniel Bard.
The Rockies will now head to San Francisco for their first road trip of the year. Austin Gomber, who walked seven batters in three innings in his first start in Colorado, will take the mound on Friday.