DENVER (AP) – Jon Gray’s power was impressive. His hop out of the batter’s box and home run trot, too.
For a pitcher who’d never hit a major league homer before, he sure had the routine down.
Gray launched his drive an estimated 467 feet – the farthest by any Rockies player this season – and pitched effectively into the sixth inning as Colorado beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on a sweltering Wednesday night.
“I see Jon in (batting practice) and he has some strength to his swing,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That ball was crushed.”
Too bad Gray won’t ever get it back as a souvenir. The ball landed in the stands and bounced into the pond behind center field, joining a bevy of baseballs from batting practice.
“It’s gone. Forever,” Gray lamented.
At least he has the memories – and the accolades from teammates, who were awed by his mighty swing.
“They really didn’t say much, just, `Man, that was crushed,’” Gray said . “I told them the same thing: `It felt good.’ I tried to put a good swing on it.”
Gray’s two-run homer in the second was the longest among pitchers since MLB’s Statcast began tracking distances in 2015. Gray even did a little skip after contact and rounded the bases at a leisurely pace.
“He may not be a good hitter but he certainly has power,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We learned that today.”
Gray (2-0) also was solid on the mound, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing three runs, two earned, in his second start since a broken bone in his left foot sidelined him for two months. Greg Holland threw a shaky ninth – by his standards – for his 28th save to help the slumping Rockies win for the third time in 14 games.
“It wasn’t a good day on the hill,” Gray said of his performance. “I didn’t have a feel for anything, really.”
Rockies shortstop Pat Valaika would debate that.
“It’s good to have high standards. But I think if a pitcher keeps us in the game, he had a good game,” said Valaika, who had a career-high three hits, including a two-run homer and a run-scoring single with two outs in the eighth.
It was a scorching day in Denver and the game-time temperature read 97 degrees, which tied for the second-hottest home contest in Rockies history.
Scott Feldman (7-6) gave up four runs in five innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter. He regretted that pitch to Gray.
“I feel like you should get the pitcher out every time,” Feldman said. “So, to pretty much lose the game on that, not a good feeling.”
Cruising along, Gray ran into trouble in the sixth when he allowed three straight hits, including a run-scoring single by Eugenio Suarez. After Tucker Barnhart lined a two-out single to load the bases, reliever Scott Oberg was summoned.
Pinch-hitter Adam Duvall hit a routine grounder to Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado, who bobbled the ball for his third error of the season. The mistake allowed a run to score and made it 4-3. Billy Hamilton grounded out to end the threat.
Arenado atoned in the seventh, when he stepped on third and threw to first for a double play that bailed the Rockies out of a jam.
Reds: Catcher Devin Mesoraco was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. … To take Mesoraco’s place, the Reds recalled RHP Ariel Hernandez from Triple-A Louisville. Hernandez pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out three.
Rockies: 2B DJ LeMahieu (groin) was out of the lineup for a second straight game. … OF Gerardo Parra (strained right quad) went 0 for 2 at Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday during a rehab assignment.
THIS & THAT
The Rockies logged their 50th win in game No. 87. That’s the quickest in franchise history. … The record for hottest home game at first pitch in Rockies history was 100 degrees on June 25, 2012, against Washington. … All-Star 1B Joey Votto hit his first triple of the season for Cincinnati. … Reds reliever Tony Cingrani threw an inning and gave up a run on his 28th birthday.
Cincinnati RHP Sal Romano (0-1, 6.00 ERA) makes his second career appearance Thursday in the fourth and final game of the series. The Rockies will send RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-9, 4.41) to the mound.