If you want a positive spin on Mike Foltynewicz’s performance Wednesday night at Coors Field, how about this: The last time he gave up 11 hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings, at Washington on June 12, the Braves right-hander pitched really well in his next seven starts.
If that pattern repeats, Foltynewicz should be good for most of the remainder of the season after posting a similarly brutal pitching line Wednesday in a 17-2 Braves loss against the Rockies at the ballpark where ERAs go to get fattened.
Foltynewicz once again gave up 11 hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings, this time without a home run (he allowed three homers June 12 at Nationals Park in a game the Braves actually won, 11-10). He had three walks and five strikeouts against the Rockies and threw a whopping 97 pitches while recording 10 outs.
“Just one of them times where I got ahead of guys 0-2, 1-2 and just couldn’t finish them,” said Foltynewicz, who has an 11.02 ERA in his past four starts including three losses. “I don’t know what it was, really. I was trying my hardest out there and things weren’t working out for me, just leaving balls over the middle of the plate with two strikes.
“Just little bloops hits and gappers and all that fun stuff, and walking people doesn’t help either.”
Trevor Story had two home runs and six RBIs for the Rockies, who had totaled 21 runs in their past eight games before blizting the Braves for 17 in the first seven innings Wednesday. Gerardo Parra and Mark Reynolds also had four RBIs apiece in just the second game in Rockies franchise history that three players had at least four RBIs.
The Rockies went 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position after going 9-for-62 with runners in scoring position in their previous eight games.
It was the most runs allowed by the Braves this season, topping a 16-4 loss to the Astros on July 4 and a16-5 loss to the Mets on May 3. The Rockies’ 18 hits were the fourth-highest total against the Braves, who gave up 20 hits twice in the first 4 1/2 weeks of the season.
The Rockies led 14-0 after five innings as reliever Luke Jackson replaced Foltynewicz (10-8) and might as well have brought a can of gasoline to the mound. The last two runs charged to Foltynewicz came on Reynolds’ three-run homer on the first pitch Jackson threw.
Jackson worked one inning and was charged with six runs and six hits including two home runs. It was his worst outing for the Braves and came on the heels of his best – he struck out six of the seven batters he faced Friday at St. Louis.
These things can happen to pitchers at Coors Field, although no one one have predicted it Wednesday after the Rockies scored three or fewer runs in eight consecutive games including three in each of the first two of this four-game series.
The loss was the Braves’ 12th in their past 13 games at Coors, where their 4-3 win Tuesday was their first since June 2014 at the Denver ballpark. The Braves have lost 16 of their past 19 games overall against the Rockies, home and away.
Rockies starter Jon Gray (5-2) retired the first nine Braves before Ender Inciarte’s leadoff single in the fourth, and recorded 12 outs in the first 12 batters including Brandon Phillips’ double-play grounder after the Inciarte hit.
The Braves trailed 14-0 before Nick Markakis’ two-run single in the sixth inning, an inning that started with rookie pitcher Max Fried drawing a leadoff walk.
For Foltynewicz, the rough outing might have been easy to write off as a Coors Field-type outing if it weren’t for the fact that he’s had other bad ones lately. After turning a corner toward becoming the frontline starter the Braves hope he’ll become, the past few weeks have been a reminder that he’s still got a ways to go before he can claim that status.
“It’s still a work in progress and it’s a new challenge now, because he was going really good and now it’s not quite so good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “And he’s going to have to fight through it and get back to where he was prior. It’s a constant learning experience and you never have this thing figured out, that’s for sure.”
After going 9-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 14 starts from May 12 through July 25, Foltynewicz is 1-3 with an 11.02 ERA in his past four starts. That’s despite having one of his best games in that span, an Aug. 5 win vs. Miami when he gave up four hits and one run while recording 11 strikeouts with no walks in 6 1/3 innings.
In two starts since that performance he’s allowed 16 hits, 14 runs and seven walks in six total innings of losses on this trip at St. Louis and Colorado. Over his past four starts he’s allowed 27 hits, 20 runs and 10 walks in 16 1/3 innings.
Wednesday against the Rockies, Foltynewicz allowed two runs on three hits in the first inning, three runs on two hits and three walks in the second inning and a run on two hits in the third inning. He faced three batters in the fourth, giving up two hits before giving way to Jackson.
DJ LeMahieu continued to be a nemesis. He singled and scored in the first inning, singled to drive in a run in the second and had a leadoff double in the fourth to make him a remarkable 10-for-12 in his career against Foltynewicz.
Then to show it wasn’t personal he singled in the fifth against Luke Jackson to make him 4-for-4 in the first five innings.
Jackson gave up a three-run homer to Reynolds, walked the second batter he faced, and one out later gave up a two-run homer to Story that pushed the lead to 11-0 in the fourth inning.
Jackson gave up four consecutive hits to start the fifth inning including a two-run double for Nolan Arenado and an RBI double from Parra. One out later, the Braves brought in Fried, who worked 2 2/3 innings and gave up three hits, three runs and three walks, all the runs coming on Story’s second homer in the seventh inning.