The baseball gods did not wait long to test Pete Crow-Armstrong and his heralded Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field.
Three batters into the bottom of the first inning in his first big-league start, Crow-Armstrong showed why the Chicago Cubs wanted him roaming the spacious outfield at Coors Field. Crow-Armstrong ran down a 107.1 mph rocket off Nolan Jones’ bat to make a leaping catch, robbing him of extra bases off the wall. The ball had a .970 expected batting average that instead became the second out of the inning.
Loud chants of “PCA! PCA!” reverberated after the catch throughout the ballpark where Crow-Armstrong’s parents, a couple of his former high school baseball coaches at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, his trainer and about seven of his close friends were among the 32,058 fans.
Crow-Armstrong again showed off his speed and route efficiency in the sixth. Another Jones liner was headed for extra bases in the right-center gap when Crow-Armstrong made a perfectly timed sliding catch to take away a hit.
His highlight reel catches were among the few bright spots in a messy 6-4 Cubs loss to the Rockies.
“I have dreamed about — literally dreamed about — making those catches and tried to picture what it’d feel like and I’d say that exceeds what I thought,” Crow-Armstrong said. “But that’s just the preparation I’ve done and the work I’ve put in. I expect to make those plays, regardless of the game.”
Right-hander Javier Assad lasted just 3 1/3 innings as he landed only 40 of his 79 pitches for strikes. It caught up to him in a four-run fourth when the Rockies’ Nos. 7-9 batters all reached to begin the inning to give Colorado some momentum. Kris Bryant’s checked swing turned into a bloop two-run game-tying single to right field with the bases loaded. A ground out and RBI single put the Rockies ahead 4-2.
“We could have done a lot of things better,” manager David Ross said. “Our signature is getting good starting pitching and we didn’t get that from Assad tonight.”
“He kind of lost command a little bit there. Could have done some things better defensively … made too many outs on the bases.”
Asked whether the base running snafus were the result of players trying to do too much or over-aggressiveness, Ross only said, “They’re just outs on the bases.”
Seiya Suzuki tied the game in the sixth with his opposite-field, two-run home run after the Rockies went to the bullpen.
Of the 17 home runs Suzuki has hit this year, eight have come since Aug. 9 when he returned from his brief benching for a mental reset. In his last 32 games including Tuesday, Suzuki is slashing .353/.411/.723 while his 1.7 fWAR in that span is tied for sixth-best among major-league hitters.
“I think those long stretches of where I’m kind of slumping, I don’t really have that anymore,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita. “I’ve been able to get out of those phases pretty quick so in that sense, I’m feeling pretty good.”