DENVER (AP)—It came down to a wild pitch to decide a wild opener at Coors Field.
Matt Lindstrom’s(notes) sinker got away from catcher Chris Iannetta(notes) with one out in the top of the 11th inning, allowing Gerardo Parra(notes) to score from third base, sending the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-6 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday.
Parra singled off Matt Reynolds(notes) to start the 11th, and Lindstrom came in and struck out a pinch hitter before Willie Bloomquist(notes) singled to right, putting runners at the corners for Kelly Johnson(notes), who was at the plate when Lindstrom threw the wild pitch.
“We called for a fastball away and he yanked it,” Iannetta said. “He threw it in and a little bit wild. I tried to dive and get a glove on it but it was just too far out of reach.”
“It hurts,” said Lindstrom, who joined the Rockies over the winter in a trade with Houston. “I’m used to dealing with guys on base, no matter the situation. It’s the 11th inning, guys have busted their butts all day, especially my teammates to try to win a game and it’s kind of unfortunate that one pitch, wild pitch would get a run in for them.”
Right-hander Sam Demel(notes) (1-0), the fifth Diamondbacks pitcher, worked one scoreless inning for the win, and righty J.J. Putz(notes) got the last three outs for his first save. Reynolds (0-1), who retired one of two batters he faced, took the loss.
“A great game,” Putz said. “What an opening day. It was just a battle all day. Ian (Kennedy) scuffled early, gained his composure and really started pitching. The guys in the bullpen were throwing well. We were able to scratch and claw, get a lead and hold it at the end.”
These teams also went extra innings in their 2006 opener. Colorado won that one in 11 innings, 3-2.
The Diamondbacks got to Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) and were trotting off the field in the seventh after righty Juan Gutierrez(notes) struck out Ty Wigginton(notes) on a pitch in the dirt for the third out to seemingly preserve a 6-4 lead. But catcher Miguel Montero(notes) short-hopped the throw to first, allowing Carlos Gonzalez(notes) to score from second base.
“My cleat got stuck on the grass and I was off balance at the time I threw,” Montero explained.
The Rockies had a chance to take the lead in the eighth but third base coach Rich Dauer held Seth Smith(notes) at third on Gonzalez’s single into the right-center gap, and the throw missed the cutoff and bounced into the infield near second base.
With a 2-2 count on Tulowitzki, Aaron Heilman’s(notes) pitch got away from Montero, but Smith didn’t try to score, saying afterward he didn’t think the ball got far enough away. In spring training, these were just the types of plays the Rockies were aggressive in trying to score on.
Before Montero’s seventh-inning flub, Kennedy was in line for the win over Jimenez, who couldn’t find his off-speed pitches and had to stick with a fastball that was topping out at around 93 mph rather than his usual 100.
It was a bad mix.
“It’s kind of weird. To be honest, I don’t think he was throwing that hard,” Montero said. “Today he didn’t have the greatest stuff, he wasn’t throwing near as hard as (normal) and we were able to take advantage.”
Montero and Justin Upton(notes) both went deep off an ineffective Jimenez, who didn’t have his usual nasty stuff and at times looked like he was pitching batting practice instead of blowing pitches past hitters like normal. Six of the seven hits he surrendered over six laborious innings went for extra bases.
After averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, Colorado’s ace whiffed just one batter.
His unusual futility finally caught up to him in the fifth, when Upton’s three-run homer put Arizona ahead 4-3. An inning later, Montero collected his fifth career hit—and third career homer—off Jimenez, sending a 2-1 pitch into the bullpen in right-center to give the D-Backs a 6-3 cushion.
Five of those six runs were earned, giving Jimenez, last year’s NL All-Star Game starter, a 7.50 ERA.
“It wasn’t as electric,” Upton said of Jimenez’s repertoire. “I don’t know exactly what he was throwing but it wasn’t jumping like it usually does.”
Jimenez said he couldn’t locate his curveball in the bullpen warming up and had to stick with fastballs.
“That’s the only thing I had,” he said.
Well, not really even that.
“I didn’t have the speed today,” Jimenez lamented. “Everything was missing. My slider wasn’t good, my changeup wasn’t good, my splitter wasn’t good.”
For a while it looked like Kennedy would be the one heading to an early shower.
He needed 50 pitches to make it through the first two innings but he settled in after falling behind 3-1 and ended up allowing three earned runs on six hits over six innings.
Lopez led off the bottom of the sixth with a no-doubt homer to left, and an inning later, he made a behind-the-back flip to Tulowitzki to start an inning-ending double play after robbing Upton of a single up the middle.
A fan interference call helped the Diamondbacks quash a rally in the bottom half of the fifth, when Gonzalez led off with a double. One out later, Helton lofted a foul ball down the left field line that Parra chased down. A fan reached over and bobbled the ball and third base umpire Bill Welke immediately signaled out No. 2.
“I didn’t think he had a chance to catch the ball,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “He thought otherwise.”
Wigginton flied out to end the inning to a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd as the fan was ejected.
NOTES: The last time Jimenez struck out just one batter was on May 21, 2008, against San Francisco, when he whiffed one in seven innings of a no-decision. … Colorado RHP Aaron Cook(notes) (broken finger) made 50 throws at 100 feet Friday as he embarked on his comeback that is expected to last for weeks.