Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis wasn’t defeated by testicular cancer, and he wouldn’t let the Braves beat him Monday night. He threw seven scoreless innings in his first Major League outing since being diagnosed in November, and the Rockies came through when Charlie Blackmon tripled and scored in the eighth inning for a 3-0 victory at Coors Field.
Bettis, who underwent surgery Nov. 29 but in March had to undergo chemotherapy treatments, gave up six hits, but struck out two and forced 12 ground-ball outs. But his most important outs may have been fly balls to center, by Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson with one out and a runner at third in the seventh.
The game was the first at Coors to go into the eighth inning scoreless since Sept. 14, 2008 — a 1-0 Rockies victory over the Dodgers. But Blackmon opened the bottom of the frame with his Majors-leading 14th triple, off former teammate Rex Brothers. Blackmon scored when Swanson, at shortstop, let Gerardo Parra’s bouncer scoot under his glove for what was originally ruled an error but changed to a single. Carlos Gonzalez added a two-run single off another former Rockies reliever, Jason Motte.
Bettis’ inspiring comeback and the Rockies’ eighth spoiled a standout performance by Braves starter Julio Teheran, who fanned eight and held the Rockies to four hits in seven scoreless innings.
Rockies fielders joyously helped Bettis on the diamond — especially in the beginning. Ender Inciarte’s first-inning leadoff drive to left field past a diving Parra bounced to the wall. Parra fired to shortstop Trevor Story, who relayed home, where catcher Jonathan Lucroy made the tag. According to Statcast™, Inciarte sped the bases in 15.13 seconds — the second-fastest round trip this season. The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain made an error-aided trip around the bases — but successfully — in 15.07 seconds against the Rays on May 8.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Majors’ RBI leader with 100, was hit on the left hand Sunday at Miami and was expected to miss at least a couple of days. But with Bettis out of the game, two on and one out in the seventh, Rockies manager Bud Black reached for magic and let Arenado pinch-hit. Teheran, however, forced a foul popup, and Teheran fanned Alexi Amarista.