Apr 1, 2014 11:27 PM by Posted by Greg Smith
MIAMI -- Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton hits balls hard. Who can forget his Marlins Park scoreboard-shattering shot off then-Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer two seasons ago?
But Tuesday night, Stanton knocked out the Rockies softly, with a fielder's-choice infield chopper in the game-turning sixth inning of the Marlins' 4-3 victory in front of 15,906. The Marlins have taken the first two in a four-game season-opening set.
"You usually don't say you want Stanton to hit the ball harder, but that's the way it goes," Rockies lefty Brett Anderson said.
With a runner at third and one out, Anderson -- efficient for much of his outing -- daringly pitched around Jeff Baker to face Stanton to set up a double play. But Stanton's bouncer ended up behind third base. With no play at the plate, Nolan Arenado threw to second, but DJ LeMahieu's relay throw was late and wide of first for an error that gave Stanton second.
Stanton stole third, which was immaterial, and he scored on Casey McGehee's single just past Anderson's glove for a 4-2 lead. McGehee, who took two curveballs for an 0-2 count before battling back to 2-2, ended up with his fifth RBI in two games.
"You don't want to face Stanton right there necessarily, but I trust Brett to navigate those type of at-bats," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Anderson's pitch strategy. "He's got a good feel for what he's doing out there."
Stanton's run would haunt.
The Rockies halved the Marlins' lead on consecutive doubles by Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez off Mike Dunn in the eighth. With two down, Wilin Rosario went from 0-2 to draw a walk from A.J. Ramos. But Arenado just missed a pitch Ramos left over the plate with one strike, then Ramos froze him with an 80-mph slider.
"If you don't take advantage of the pitches he leaves over the plate, he's going to get you out," Arenado said. "He threw a nasty slider, a tough pitch, a good pitch."
Ramos was happy with his strategy.
"I knew I had a base open," Ramos said. "Arenado struggles with sliders. I definitely wasn't going to flip a ball up there for a flare to get hit. I was either going to make [Rosario] hit my pitch, or walk him, which is what I did."
Anderson (0-1), in his Rockies debut after five seasons with the Athletics, held the Marlins to four runs, three earned, on five hits over six innings. Two of the runs came in the second, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled in a run. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who had an acrobatic backhand and throw on a Marcell Ozuna bouncer in the sixth, threw home in time to beat Reed Johnson, but catcher Rosario tried to tag too quickly and the ball bounced over his left shoulder.
Saltalamacchia scored on Adeiny Hechavarria's sacrifice fly.
"They'd done their homework on me, because as soon as I got to two strikes, my put-away pitch, my strikeout pitch has always been my slider, and they were kind of sitting on it," said Anderson, who doubled in the fifth inning for not only his first Major League hit, but his first since the last at-bat of his senior year of high school.
"Lefties and righties, I wanted to mix and match, and I felt I did a pretty good job of that. Through five, I felt like I was as efficient as I could possibly be, but hit a little bump in the sixth."
The Rockies worked back into the game in the fourth on Tulowitzki's RBI double and Rosario's sacrifice fly against Nathan Eovaldi, who gave up two runs on six hits and struck out six in his six innings, then gave way to strong bullpen work. Steve Cishek earned his first save.
The Rockies struck out nine times in six innings against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in Monday's 10-1 loss. Eovaldi has a heavier fastball, so the task wasn't any easier, but the Rockies were able to stay in the game at least. That's an improvement, but hardly good enough.
"I thought we put together a lot of good at-bats [against Eovaldi]; he's got a good arm, too," Weiss said. "He was running up there pretty good. But I thought we made him work, made him grind a little bit and got him out of the game.
"We didn't get the big hit late. We put together some good at-bats, but the bottom line is we've got to find a way to tie that game or get the lead late."