DENVER – For openers, it was 27 degrees with a light snow when the weather-delayed game started 61 minutes after schedule.
Cheyenne Mountain weather.
Brandon McCarthy, a 2001 graduate of the tennis-powerhouse Cheyenne Mountain High School Indians in Colorado Springs, pitched six strong innings and added an RBI double to lift the Atlanta Braves past the Colorado Rockies, 8-3, at Coors Field here Friday.
"If felt like high school baseball,” McCarthy said. "I don’t mind pitching in cold. I got used to it growing up. It’s been a while since I’ve been back in it, but it’s something where it’s easier for the pitcher than it is for the hitter so, I tried to keep that in mind and once you got loose it was fine.”
From the time the temperature plummeted and a snow storm struck the Denver-area about mid-morning, it was a miserable home opener for the Rockies, who fell to 4-4. The Braves improved to 5-2.
The announced crowd was 48,216, a sellout but there might have been 10,000 no-shows and fewer than 5,000 fans who hung around by game’s end.
"I don’t blame them,” said Carlos Gonzalez, who had a nice performance from the cleanup spot. "We’ve got such great fans. They hang in there. They waited (an hour and one minute) for the first pitch. And the house was packed. If I was a fan I promise I would not stay for the first pitch, but we have such great fans.”
Once the game began, Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez took an inning to warm up. He allowed a one-out home run to Ozzie Albies, two walks, a bloop single and a two-out, two-run triple to Dansby Swanson that put the Rockies down 4-0 before their first home at-bat of the season.
Dansby turned out to be the toughest out of the afternoon as his third, two-out hit — a double past a diving Nolan Arenado down the third-base line — drove in his third run and ignited a three-run fifth that chased Marquez.
McCarthy was less bothered by the chill, as you’d expect from a pitcher who grew up playing spring ball in the Springs. He played one year at Lamar Community College, going 12-0 in 2002, then was drafted in the 17th round by the Chicago White Sox.
He’s pitched in worse.
"Probably,” McCarthy said. "I can’t completely remember every game but I’m sure somewhere along the line I have.”
McCarthy had trouble with CarGo, who lined a two-out RBI triple in the first and homered in the fourth. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story also drilled a solo homer in the fourth, his first of the season, but McCarthy worried not about how the ball carried in his home state big-league ballpark but the strike zone.
"He was good, he was effective,” Story said of McCarthy. "Changing speeds, getting ahead early. He’s a good pitcher and he had a good game plan today and we just couldn’t really get to him.”
McCarthy needed just 88 pitches to get through six innings, walking just one, and is 2-0 after two starts – the third consecutive season he has won his first two starts after never doing it in his first 11 big-league seasons. He even added a two-out, RBI double in the fifth.
"I got (15) runs and eight runs, that’s also a big part of it,” McCarthy said. "I could have just as easily had two losses if we’re not getting run support. Wins and losses are non-factors to me. It’s, did we get the win as a team?”
The Braves and Rockies play again Saturday night with the first pitch at 6:10.