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Antonio Senzatela, Rockies look to take series from Dodgers

Mar 29, 2022; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela (49) throws against the Los Angeles Angels during a spring training game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies are not expected to be a threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, but Saturday they showed they can hang with the World Series favorites.

Behind a strong seven-inning start by German Marquez and a timely home run from Connor Joe, Colorado beat its NL West Division rival 3-2 and can win the weekend series Sunday afternoon.

The Rockies will send righty Antonio Senzatela to the mound to face lefty Julio Urias in the rubber game of the three-game series.

Senzatela is coming off a solid 2021 despite not having the wins to show for it. He went 4-10 with a 4.42 ERA in 28 starts but came on strong in the second half of the season. He went six innings or more in 16 of his last 21 starts and had a 3.98 ERA in those outings.

It was enough for the Rockies to sign him to a five-year, $50.5 million extension, and he gets a tough matchup in his first outing of the year.

Senzatela is 4-5 with a 6.16 ERA in 14 appearances — 12 starts — in his career against the Dodgers.

Senzatela will pitch in front of some different teammates this season. Trevor Story is not manning shortstop anymore and Kris Bryant has taken over in left field after signing a seven year, $182-million contract.

The loss of Story — and starter Jon Gray, who signed in the offseason with Texas — hasn’t soured the rest of the team on Colorado’s chances to compete this season.

“I think we have a really good dynamic off the field,” veteran outfielder Charlie Blackmon said. “On the field, I think we’re going to find our way pretty quick. I think the scary thing is, you don’t really know where the strike is going to come from. Obviously, you’ve got Kris Bryant and you got some names. But I also think there’s some guys, maybe a little further down, that are going to surprise you here before long.”

The Rockies will have a tough challenge against Urias, who had a Cy Young-worthy season in 2021.

He finished 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 32 starts in his first full season in the rotation. Urias didn’t rest on his breakout season; he honed his physique, dropping around 20 pounds while spending the winter in the Phoenix area in the offseason instead of returning to his native Mexico.

“In past years, I remember how I used to try to make an impression in my first bullpen and make people say, ‘Wow,'” Urias told the Los Angeles Times recently. “Now, I want to impress them, but in a different way, with my physical condition. They know I have a good arm. They know I can pitch.

“I was just eating better. Obviously, trying to leave behind the temptations — the candies, the Coca-Cola, which are very good, honestly.”

Urias has faced Colorado 18 times in his career, with 15 of those being starts. He is 4-1 with a 5.16 ERA in those games and has allowed more home runs (10) to the Rockies than he has to any other team.

–Field Level Media