It wasn’t Coors Field that did in Wei-Yin Chen.
While Chen gave up a towering home run to Nolan Arenado in a six-run Rockies outburst in the fourth, it was a series of Marlins misadventures (including one of his own) and small-ball baseball that led to Chen’s undoing and an eventual 11-3 Colorado win.
There was a Starlin Castro error. There was a Chen wild pitch. And then there was a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt by Rockies starter Jon Gray. It all added up to a disaster of an inning for Chen and the Marlins, who opened their series with Colorado by losing their third straight.
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"We didn't give him a whole lot of help," said manager Don Mattingly. "The third time through (the lineup), though, it seems like he has trouble getting swing and miss. It's like a lot of foul balls. Put the ball in play here you've got a shot."
Chen (2-4) gave up seven runs on nine hits over four innings and saw his ERA balloon to 6.70. He’ll be receiving a scheduled $8 million payout on June 30, a deferred signing bonus that was included in the five-year $80 million deal that he signed before the 2016 season.
Money aside, Chen has had good moments and bad this season. Friday's fell among the latter.
It was first time pitching at Coors for Chen, and he said he could feel its effects, namely the high altitude.
"With the thin air out there, at the start of the game, it was kind of hard for me to breathe out there," Chen said. "In my life, I never pitched in such a high place. We don't have a ballpark like this in Taiwan, or anywhere else. The first two innings there, it was kind of hard."
But Chen survived those innings by allowing only one run. The fourth was his undoing.
Unfortunately, in the fourth inning, I couldn't control the damage," Chen said. "All the bad things happened in the fourth."
After Derek Dietrich homered to tie the score in the third, the Rockies went to work on Chen in the fourth.
The Rockies scored the first of their runs in the fourth when Starlin Castro couldn’t come up with Miguel Rojas’ throw back to second to get Carlos Gonzalez. The ball rolled onto the outfield grass, and Ian Desmond scored from third.
After Noel Cuevas reached on an infield hit to put runners on the corners, Gray dropped down a bunt that scored the second run of the inning. A wild pitch by Chen preceded a RBI sacrifice fly by DJ LeMahieu and RBI single by Charlie Blackmon.
Arenado applied the finishing touch with a two-run homer.
The Rockies padded their lead with three runs in the seventh off Elieser Hernandez, who could slide into a rotation spot next week when injured starter Jose Urena's turn comes up next.
Offensively, Dietrich and J.T. Realmuto each had three hits. But the rest of the lineup didn't produce. Colorado pitchers totaled 14 strikeouts, with Gray notching 12 over seven innings.
"I felt like we got away from what we wanted to do tonight, a lot of chases," Mattingly said of Marlins hitters. "It was a disappointing game from the standpoint of our approach. It looked like it was out of whack to me."