Rockies blow late lead, but Jon Gray provides a silver lining

The Rockies blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, but starting pitcher Jon Gray was solid yet again.
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Jon Gray. Colorado Rockies vs San Diego Padres. June 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rockies; colorado; baseball; denver; coors field; jon gray; kevinjbeaty; denverite;

Jon Gray under an inflamed sky, pitching against the San Diego Padres on June 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Colorado Rockies’ loss Friday night to the San Diego Padres will likely be remembered for how it ended: With the Padres’ Wil Myers blasting a 451-foot, three-run bomb off Rockies’ closer Jake McGee that helped San Diego complete a ninth-inning comeback and steal a game at Coors Field.

And that’s probably fair. Blown two-run leads warrant some dog-cussing.

But Colorado fans should also keep in mind what came before McGee blew his third save of the season in a 7-5 loss. They should keep in mind the solid performance starting pitcher Jon Gray put on yet again.

Gray went 7 innings, gave up four hits, three runs (only one of which was earned) and struck out seven batters. On a night when his defense didn’t do him a ton of favors — catcher Nick Hundley’s error in the first inning led to two unearned runs — the 24-year-old righty put his team in a position to win.

Jon Gray rips a pitch against the San Diego Padres on June 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Gray’s done a lot of that lately. Friday marked the fourth-straight start in which Gray pitched at least 6 innings and gave up two earned runs or fewer. Since that May 19 slip-up against the Cardinals, Gray’s sporting a 2.30 ERA.

“Johnny was real good again,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “Certainly did his part. Exactly what we needed. He went out there and did it again.”

Gray said after the game that he felt like he didn’t have his best stuff. That didn’t keep him from submitting a quality start, though. He settled down after giving Melvin Upton Jr. a solo shot in the fourth inning, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

“The whole game was a battle,” Gray said. “I didn’t really feel like I had my best command. But I just tried to mix (pitches) as much as I could and get a couple guys to miss.”

Pitchers Jon Gray and Christian Bergman watch the Colorado Rockies bat against the San Diego Padres from their dugout on June 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Gray is about as mellow as professional athletes come. He’s soft spoken and far from demonstrative on the mound. His response postgame when a reporter asked him if he’d turned a corner since the Cardinals roughed him up in mid-May reflected that.

“No,” he said. “Not at all. Just got to keep a level head and just repeat everything.”

Rockies fans likely left Coors Field on Friday feeling a little bit incensed. But there was a silver lining — a tall, young, hard-throwing silver lining.

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