Struggling Mariners, hot Rockies square off in Seattle

MLB

Bud Black has spent his entire managerial career in the National League.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to employ a designated hitter.

Black, who spent most of his pitching career facing DHs in the American League and began his coaching career with the Angels, has made liberal use of the position in this pandemic-shortended season, in which both leagues are using the DH.

Thursday, shortstop Trevor Story served in the DH role and hit a solo home run to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning, leading the Rockies to a 6-4 victory against visiting San Francisco.

That gave the Rockies victories in their first four series of the season for the first time in franchise history, as well as a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race.

The Rockies will put that streak on the line when they travel to Seattle for a three-game interleague series beginning Friday night.

Black twice has used outfielder Charlie Blackmon as the DH and said he might get third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder David Dahl at-bats at that spot as well.

“Moving forward, you’ll see a little bit more of that, and also I think you’ll see an occasional day off from starting,” Black said. “Early in the year, we had a day off before our opener in Texas. We had a day off in Oakland. We had a day off when we came back to Denver. That afforded us to be rested, to keep guys going and playing.”

But the Rockies have only one more day off until Sept. 3.

“That’s a long stretch of games in the heat of August,” Black said. “I wouldn’t call it a rotating DH, but you’re going to see that. We DHed Charlie (Wednesday night), Trevor (Thursday). I’ve talked to Nolan about that.”

Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela (2-0, 2.45 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener in Seattle. Senzatela held San Diego to one run in six innings in his most recent start and struck out six, but he has struggled against Seattle, going 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in two career starts.

The Mariners will counter with left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.66 ERA), who will be facing the Rockies for the first time. Kikuchi pitched six scoreless innings Saturday against Oakland, allowing three hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, but he didn’t figure in the 3-2 loss.

Seattle, which is in rebuilding mode, has lost three of its four series this season and leads only the Texas Rangers in the American League West.

The Mariners managed just four hits in a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. Daniel Vogelbach, an All-Star Game representative last year who is batting just .125 this season, produced the only run with a solo homer.

“The season is short, it’s not 162 games,” Vogelbach said. “It’s not 500-600 at-bats, so you can look at it as it’s short and very rushed. Or you can look at it as if you stay with the process and keep working hard and have a good two weeks, you can have a good year, pretty much.

“So it’s just staying into your work, putting the time in and trusting that you’re good and it’s going to get hot sooner or later.”

–Field Level Media

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