MILWAUKEE (The Sports Xchange) – Nolan Arenado had been hitting the ball well through the first three games of the 2017 MLB season, but he hadn’t yet cleared the fences.
He changed that quickly Thursday, and at a perfect time, snapping a ninth-inning tie by crushing a fastball from Neftali Feliz to left-center field as the Colorado Rockies beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, at Miller Park.
“For Nolan getting the first homer, it is a good sign,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “He ended spring training in probably not as good of a spot as he wanted to just statistically, even though he hit a home run in his last at-bat of spring.”
Rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela scattered two hits and walked three in his major-league debut. He was tested early by the Brewers, who loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. He escaped when Domingo Santana bounced into a double play and crushed from there, facing three over the minimum without allowing a runner into scoring position the rest of the way.
“Even though he walked a couple of guys, there were some well-thrown fastballs,” Black said. “There were a couple of good changeups and some well-thrown sliders. All in all, five scoreless innings, pitch count was a little high. He wasn’t overly efficient, but he got the job done. I think it is a good one to build off of.”
Reynolds gave Senzatela a 1-0 lead in the third with his second home run of the season and Arenado broke the tie in the ninth when he sent a 0-2 fastball at the letters from Feliz (0-1) to left-center field for his first home run.
“I was just trying to shorten up and put the ball in play with two strikes and he threw one middle-in and I put a good swing on it,” Arenado said. “I didn’t crush it, but I hit it good enough. He produced the power. He was throwing hard. I was just trying to get on top of the ball, and luckily I did.”
Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson allowed three hits and walked two while striking out four in six innings.
“It was a good first start for Chase,” Milwaukee manager Counsell said. “It was kind of like an extension of what he did in that final exhibition game, I thought he did a good job beating some hitters. He pitched great. A really nice ballgame.”
Kirk Nieuwenhuis worked a full count against Adam Ottavino before sending a fastball to right-center for his first homer of the season to forge a 1-1 deadlock with one out in the seventh.
Milwaukee threatened again in the eighth, putting two on with one out against Mike Dunn (1-0) but the left-hander got Santana to line out to second and Hernan Perez flew out to center.
After Arenado’s home run, Greg Holland earned his third save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
“I thought we swung the bats pretty well today, especially early in the game,” Counsell said. “We had some good at-bats and hit some balls hard but right at people. They got some outs today but I thought we swung the bats well.”
The Brewers got a scare in the second, when Keon Broxton took a 92 mph fastball from Senzatela to the helmet. Fortunately for Broxton, his helmet included a protective flap that protected him from serious injury.
“He fell to the ground for a few moments but was able to walk off the field and is considered day-to-day with a slight nasal fracture suffered when the flap pushed back against his nose.
“It (hit) in between the visor and the C-flap, so it would have hit me directly in the eye socket if I wouldn’t have had the C-flap on,” Broxton said. “That thing just saved my life.”
NOTES: Brewers manager Craig Counsell gave LF Ryan Braun his first off-day of the season Thursday. Braun made the game’s final out as a pinch hitter. The move allowed Counsell to shift Eric Thames to left and give Jesus Aguilar a start at 1B. … After using the same positional lineup for the first three games of the season, Rockies manager Bud Black made one change Thursday, resting C Tony Wolters and starting Dustin Garneau in his place. … Milwaukee OF Keon Broxton left the game after being struck in the helmet by a pitch in the second inning. … Colorado 1B Mark Reynolds had seven hits over the first four games including three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.