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Costly error spoils Hudson’s Rockies debut

During a cloudy and windy opener at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies found themselves unable to find any offense as they were shutout by the Chicago Cubs 5-0, wasting a quality outing by starter Dakota Hudson on Monday.

In a classic pitcher’s duel, Hudson matched Japanese import Shota Imanaga pitch for pitch. Making his Rockies debut, the veteran right-hander lived up to his reputation as a groundball pitcher by inducing seven groundouts. That ability enabled him to last 5 1/3 innings on 85 pitches, striking out two and walking two.

Unfortunately, Hudson deserved better than his first loss of the season as disaster reared its ugly head for the Rockies once again in the sixth inning. After back-to-back singles to Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki, Hudson battled back from a 3-1 count against former MVP Cody Bellinger to induce a fly ball to center field. With one out and a chance to keep the game scoreless, Hudson hung an 84 mph slider over the middle of the plate to third baseman Christopher Morel who lined it through to left field. Respecting Nolan Jones’s cannon of an arm that posted a Rockies-record 19 outfield assists a year ago, the Cubs put up a stop sign for Happ in a move that would have loaded the bases for Dansby Swanson.

Then the unthinkable happened.

While charging the grounder, Jones completely missed the ball and saw it roll all the way to the wall, allowing two runs to score. As if one error on the play wasn’t bad enough, Jones’s throw back into the infield also bounced away from the cutoff man, resulting in another error and enabling Morel to complete a Little League home run and give the Cubs a 3-0.

The play knocked Hudson out of the game, having allowed three unearned runs. Nick Mears continued a strong start to the season but got the next two outs to end the inning. The Cubs would tack on two more runs in the seventh off of Peter Lambert courtesy of Bellinger’s two-run single that resulted in the end of the inning when Suzuki was thrown out at third base.

The Rockies had zero answers for Imanaga who was making his MLB debut. The 30-year-old Japanese pitcher took advantage of the lack of information and video available about him and put his arsenal on full display. Imanaga did not allow a hit through 5 2/3 innings until Charlie Blackmon roped a single to center field.

In six shutout innings, Imanaga allowed just one hit and zero walks while wracking up nine strikeouts. He induced 20 swing and misses against the Rockies utilizing his whole arsenal. He tied a modern-era mark of most strikeouts with no walks or runs allowed in an MLB debut dating back to 1901 joining Nick Kingham in 2018, per Sarah Langs.

Had the weather been different, Imanaga may not have joined the record books. The Rockies had the top five distances on balls in play, with several reaching the outfield walls, but the wind blowing in knocked several of them down, resulting in outs. Still, the expected batting average on the balls in play was still quite low.

The Rockies’ woes continued at the plate despite some bad luck variables. Kris Bryant still remains without a hit, reaching just once via an error. The team drew just one walk while striking out nine times and amassing just three hits in total. They went a combined 3-for-31 in the ballgame. Their inability to score runs has been an early flaw to begin the seasons and isn’t showing signs of changing anytime soon unless plenty of factors come to fruition.

Up Next 

Kyle Freeland (0-1, 38.57 ERA) will make his second start of the season, looking to rebound from the 2 1/3 inning outing on Opening Day in which he allowed 10 runs.

The Cubs send out Javier Assad who will be making his season debut. In 32 games last season, primarily in relief, he pitched 109 1/3 innings, posting a 3.05 ERA with 94 strikeouts.


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