Sunday, March 31, 2019

MLB Game Preview: Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins - 3/31/2019 - 1:10 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins - Date: 3/31/2019 Absent Murphy, Rockies seek series win vs. Marlins The Colorado Rockies, who have won two of the first three games in their season-opening series against the host Miami Marlins, didn't enjoy a hot start last season.Colorado sat four games under .500 last June 27, but the Rockies turned things around with a 17-6 July, broke even in August and made the playoffs for the second straight year with a strong September (19-9).The Rockies looked good in their first two games this season before Miami broke out with 16 hits during a 7-3 win on Saturday.On Saturday, the Rockies were without first baseman Daniel Murphy, for whom X-rays revealed a broken left index finger after he jammed it while making a diving fielding play on Friday.Defense is a point of emphasis this season for the Rockies. Case in point was the homer-saving catch made on Friday by center fielder Ian Desmond, who jumped to grab a smash hit by Miami's Lewis Brinson."I got fish-tanked again," Brinson said in a reference to the deep dimensions of Marlins Park. "I thought I got (a homer), but Ian made a great play." Rockies reliever DJ Johnson was trying to hold a 2-1 Colorado lead when Brinson hit his shot to right-center in the eighth inning. When Johnson saw Desmond make his catch, the pitcher clapped and pointed toward his teammate, who had fallen after colliding with the wall.Later, in the dugout, Johnson gave Desmond a hug."A big thank you," Johnson said. "It was a big moment." Moving Desmond -- who was the Washington Nationals' starting shortstop for seven years -- to center field was a big decision for Colorado.Desmond first played center field on a regular basis in 2016, when he was acquired by the Texas Rangers. Sports Picking Services.  ;The Rockies acquired Desmond in 2017, when he mostly played left field, and he was used primarily at first base last year.This season, Desmond, 33, is the oldest starting center fielder in the majors, and his availability convinced the Rockies to move 2017 batting champ Charlie Blackmon, 32, to right field. Blackmon had been Colorado's full-time center fielder the past four years, enjoying tremendous success.But the Rockies feel that this configuration -- with the righty-hitting Desmond in center flanked by lefty swingers Blackmon and David Dahl -- gives them the best chance at success, and, so far, the plan is working.Miami, which won the season series against Colorado 4-2 last year, is projected to finish in last place after earning just 63 victories in 2018. Last year, Miami went 10-18 in March/April and 10-18 in May. Sports Picks for Today. The rest of the season followed those same lines, with no winning months.On Sunday, in the series finale, the Rockies will send right-hander Jon Gray to the mound against Marlins righty Sandy Alcantara.Gray, 27, has double-figure wins in each of his three major league seasons. A former Oklahoma Sooners pitcher, Gray had made Colorado's Opening Day start in each of the past two seasons and is already second in franchise history with 12 double-figure strikeout games.Still, he slumped to a career-worst 5.12 ERA last year, which is why he is now No. 3 in the Colorado rotation.Gray's history against Miami is mixed -- 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts.Alcantara, a 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, broke into the majors in 2017, pitching eight games, all in relief, for the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4.32 ERA.Last season, he made his Marlins debut and was strictly a starter, sporting a 2-3 record and a 3.44 ERA in six games. He went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three Marlins Park starts.Alcantara, who has never faced Colorado, has a fastball that averaged 95.5 mph last season and can tick up to 100.--Field Level Media