Kris Bryant and Jose Urena were late to the party, but they certainly spiced things up for the Rockies.
The Rockies shut out the Pirates 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at Coors Field and extended their winning streak to a season-high five games to improve to 43-49.
“We’re in a good position,” Bryant said after Colorado won for the eighth time in ten games. “It’s easy to just look at the table and our record or whatever. But if we continue to focus on what we’re doing now — winning three straight series — just playing good baseball, we’ll look up at the end of the season and see how we’re doing.
Bryant, who was out for most of the first half of the season with a back injury, was 3-on-3 with a walk and a run. Urena, a journeyman who started the season in the Milwaukee bullpen before being cut, pitched six scoreless innings.
Closer Daniel Bard gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth but came out unscathed to record his 20th save in 22 opportunities.
Bryant’s two-out single in the seventh kept a rally alive, putting Brian Serven on third base and setting up Charlie Blackmon’s RBI single to defeat right-hander Yerry de Los Santos 2-0.
Without Bryant on the starting lineup, the Rockies were 20-33. With him in the line-up, they improved to 23-16.
“We talked about his baseline average (.376) in his career,” said manager Bud Black. “Statistically, he’s a good attacking player and it showed (today). Kris plays a big role on offense and was a perfect example of that today. Four times on base.”
Urena, who earned the purple chain as the game’s Rockies MVP, held the Pirates on five hits, batted four and walked two. Most impressively, he recorded 11 outs over groundballs, including two double plays.
“The plan was to attack them early (in the count),” Urena said.
Saturday marked the right-hander’s sixth career start with six or more shutout innings and his first since July 29, 2018 against Washington. On Saturday, Urena threw a season-high 94 pitches, 62 for strikes.
“What he’s doing now is pumping that mid-’90s sink-in fastball in,” Black said. “He keeps the ball down. (He) occasionally throws a slider and an occasional change. Lots of in and lots of down that Grounder produce.”
Urena worked out of a minor jam in the first inning. Back-to-back singles from Ben Gamel and Ke’Bryan Hayes tested Urena, but he got Daniel Vogelbach flying to center, beating Oneil Cruz, who saw.
Right fielder Connor Joe gave Urena a boost in the sixth. After Vogelbach went for a walk, Cruz drilled the ball off the scoreboard in right field, but Joe fielded the ball perfectly, keeping Cruz on a single and holding the slow Vogelbach in third.
Urena has proven to be an excellent under-the-radar pickup. He was signed by the Rockies on May 16 to a minor league contract and is tied 1-1 with Colorado after three starts with a 2.05 ERA.
“When he left Milwaukee, our organization and his agent got together — along with other organizations — and talked about the potential for him to step in and be a starter,” Black said. “We said quite frankly, ‘That’s how we see him.’ He built up some arm strength in Albuquerque, and here we are. Three starts and he was able to pitch a high number without any problems.”
Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller matched Urena and held the Rockies to an undeserved run through six innings. He knocked out six and only allowed five hits.
A mistake cost Keller dearly. With two outs in the fifth, Joe hit a routine grounder against Cruz, Pittsburgh’s prized 6-foot-7 rookie shortstop. But Cruz threw the ball into the Rockies’ dugout, allowing Joe to finish second. Bryant came through with a single to center and gave Colorado a 1-0 lead.
The Rockies will be looking to wrap up their three-game win over the Pirates on Sunday, their last game before the All-Star break.
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/07/16/kris-bryant-jose-urena-rockies-beat-pirates/ Rockies win fifth straight, Blank Pirates 2-0 behind Jose Urena and Kris Bryant – Greeley Tribune