Rockies’ Connor Joe looks to make his mark vs. Giants

MLB

Two players with strong ties to Sunday’s opponent could find themselves going head-to-head for a second time in three days when the Colorado Rockies and host San Francisco Giants complete a four-game series.

Colorado received a strong pitching effort from left-hander Kyle Freeland in a 4-1 victory on Saturday night. The decision ended the Rockies’ four-game skid and Giants’ six-game winning streak.

San Francisco recorded a 7-0 win in the series opener Thursday and a 5-4 victory the following night.

Colorado outfielder Connor Joe, 28, who made his major-league debut for the Giants in 2019, went 0-for-4 with a walk in his team’s win on Saturday. He is 2-for-12 with two walks out of the Rockies’ leadoff spot in the series.

One of his two hits was big — a two-run homer off former Rockies closer Jake McGee in the ninth inning of Friday’s loss. The blast put Colorado within one run and led to the left-hander’s exit from the game before he could lock down what would have been a 25th save.

It was just the second time this season — second in a row, in fact — in which McGee failed to complete the final inning in a save opportunity.

Joe was one of Giants president Farhan Zaidi’s first below-the-radar acquisitions in 2019. A Rule 5 pick-up by the Cincinnati Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Zaidi’s former team, Joe arrived in San Francisco in a trade and went 1-for-15 with five strikeouts in 2019.

Joe, who did not play during the 2020 season, has rebounded to hit .277 this season for Colorado.

“That was a big step for me when I debuted with the Giants, and whether I was ready or not, I’m not sure,” he said. “I believe I needed that experience. I needed that time with the Giants to learn. I needed that time to go back to the minor leagues and learn.

“I’m more confident in my approach every time I step into the box.”

The at-bat against McGee was the first of Joe’s career. He has yet to face the Giants’ projected starter for the series finale, lefty Alex Wood (9-3, 4.22 ERA).

Wood will take an 11-game unbeaten streak to the mound. He’s gone 4-0 in those games with a 4.89 ERA.

He made back-to-back starts against the Rockies earlier this season, going 1-0 while allowing four runs and eight hits in 11 innings. It improved his career record against Colorado to 5-3 with a 6.01 ERA in 17 games, including 14 starts.

The Rockies are expected to counter with right-hander Jon Gray (7-8, 3.85), who got the win in a 6-5 home triumph over San Francisco on May 5. He is 2-6 with a 5.86 ERA in 13 career starts against the Giants.

Gray has never gone head-to-head against Giants third baseman Evan Longoria, who was reinstated from the injured list Saturday after a two-month absence due to a sprained left shoulder.

Longoria went 1-for-4 and scored a run in Saturday’s loss, after which Giants manager Gabe Kapler gave him a thumbs-up on the performance.

“I don’t think his timing was synced up particularly well,” Kapler observed. “There’s plenty of bat speed there. We’ve been seeing the power in his swings in the cage. He needs to knock some of the rust off, and that would shock no one.”

–Field Level Media

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