DENVER (AP) – Dexter Fowler thought he was hit on the right foot in the batter’s box, only the plate umpire didn’t see it that way.
No big deal. On the very next pitch, Fowler managed to get the Colorado Rockies started on the right foot.
Fowler hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Jhoulys Chacin pitched effectively into the seventh, helping the Rockies to a 9-1 win over San Diego on Sunday for their first series sweep of the Padres at Coors Field in 10 years.
Wilin Rosario later broke open a tight game with a three-run homer as the Rockies improved to 5-1, their best start since 1995 when the Blake Street Bombers began 7-1.
Just what this team needed after a season in which they lost a franchise-record 98 games.
“It’s nice to put some of those demons behind us right away,” manager Walt Weiss said. “I don’t think a lot of people feel the same way on the outside, but we’re very confident.”
Not to mention productive at the plate. The Rockies now have 13 homers in six games.
What’s more, after a nine-run, 15-hit performance on Sunday, this batting order has scored 39 times and pounded out 71 hits.
“Swinging like we know how to,” Fowler said. “We know we can hit.”
Chacin (1-0) turned in another efficient performance as he surrendered one run before being pulled with two outs in the seventh. He threw 99 pitches, nearly becoming the first Rockies starter to throw more than 100 pitches since June 12 – a stretch of 108 games. It’s the longest string in the majors since records started being kept by STATS in 1988.
“Today, I was throwing sinkers,” Chacin said. “It wasn’t planned, but they were swinging early in the count, so I was trying to get my sinkers down.”
Chacin was sharp all afternoon, much like he was on opening day when he gave up just one run in 6 2-3 innings during a no-decision at Milwaukee. He missed more than three months in 2012 with shoulder inflammation, but the Rockies are banking on a bounce-back season from Chacin. They’re hoping he can develop into the ace of the staff.
Edinson Volquez (0-2) settled down after a shaky first inning in which he allowed three runs, including Fowler’s fourth homer of the season. Volquez lasted six innings, giving up four runs and nine hits.
The hard-throwing righty worked on his mechanics after struggling in an opening day outing in New York. Manager Bud Black said Volquez was pulling his head and then “everything gets going left.”
On this day, everything went right for the Rockies – right field, anyway. Eric Young Jr. led off the first with a double to right. Fowler then appeared to be hit on the foot with a pitch from Volquez and began jogging to first base. But plate umpire Paul Emmel called him back, thinking the ball missed him.
Fowler then sent a 93 mph fastball into the bullpen beyond right field. Reid Brignac later added an RBI double.
Not exactly the start the Padres envisioned.
“High pitch count in the first,” Black said. “And that’s not ideal for a starting pitcher. It puts you at risk early for a game that can get away from you. But Volky hung in there. … It was a good recovery.”
After six straight games on the road, the Padres will head to Petco Park for their home opener on Tuesday. Asked if the 1-5 start was a concern, Black said his attention is centered on how the team is playing.
“We’re not pitching well. We’re not hitting. That’s what we’re concerned about,” he said. “Our offense isn’t scoring runs to help the pitching. Pretty simple.”
The Rockies are putting everything together on the diamond as they won their fifth straight.
“This is a team right now that’s hot,” Black said. “You look at Fowler. You look at Rosario, (Troy) Tulowitzki. I could keep going. Look at their averages. Look at their production.
“As a group, they’re playing well and that’s what happens when you get six, seven, eight guys hitting. You put up numbers.”
This performance was with a makeshift lineup, too.
Weiss gave Todd Helton and Tulowitzki the day off, while Michael Cuddyer sat out after tweaking his left wrist trying to make a diving catch the night before.
The changes in the order hardly mattered, though. Shortstop Jonathan Herrera made the most of his start, finishing 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
“Everybody in this clubhouse can do damage at the plate,” Carlos Gonzalez said. “Right now, we’re trying to play smart, score runs, trying to take the lead early and get confidence for the pitchers.”
NOTES: OF Chris Denorfia drove in the only run for San Diego with a double in the fourth. … LHP Jorge De La Rosa will throw for Colorado on Monday night in San Francisco against LHP Madison Bumgarner (1-0). … Rockies minor league OF David Dahl, the team’s first-round pick last summer, tweeted that he was sent to extended spring for “missing a flight and for questions about attitude. I respect the Rockies’ decision and will continue to improve as a player, teammate and as a person.”
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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