NEW YORK | Jim Tracy wants his Colorado Rockies pitchers to take it to the limit.
And his 75-pitch boundary for starters seems to be working of late.
Tyler Chatwood combined with four relievers in a 1-0 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday, completing a four-game sweep and giving the last-place Rockies a five-game winning streak that tied their season high.
“What we just did today is not easy to do. It’s not easy to do — sweep a four-game series on the road,” Tracy said.
Ever since the Rockies went to a four-man rotation in June, their starters have been on tight limits. The Colorado manager has kept the restraints in place even as the Rockies have gone back to a quintet of starters.
Chatwood was pulled after allowing three hits over three innings. He needed 65 pitches to get nine outs.
“I was getting close to the 75 pitches, so they made the decision,” Chatwood said. “You always want to be economical. I think that’s your job as a starting pitcher, to go as deep as you can in a game. And I think that 75 pitches kind of makes you go right after the guy.”
No Rockies starter has reached 100 pitches since Jeremy Guthrie threw 102 against Oakland on June 12, according to STATS LLC.
Forget about complete games — they’ve gone the way of the Dodo bird in Colorado. The Rockies haven’t had one since Jhoulys Chacin in a 2-1 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 11 last year. Tracy still was raving about Chacin’s six-inning, 73-pitch effort in Tuesday’s 6-2 victory.
“Fifty-one of the 73 were strikes,” he said. “In my opinion, that’s quality major league pitching. When you throw 80 pitches or you throw 75 pitches in three innings, or 78 pitches in three innings, and someone’s going to sit here from what I’ve experienced in over 36 years and tell me that that’s quality major league pitching, I’ll strongly disagree with whoever is uttering it to me. I want our guys to understand what quality major league pitching is all about.”
On the other side, New York’s Collin McHugh pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings in a dazzling big league debut. After he left, the Rockies quickly went ahead against Bobby Parnell (2-3) as Jordany Valdespin misplayed Tyler Colvin’s leadoff drive in the eighth into a game-changing triple.
Colvin hit Parnell’s second pitch to straightaway center, where the rookie Valdespin took two steps in, then realized he had misjudged the drive. He backpedaled a half-dozen steps and tried for a leaping, backhand grab, but the ball sailed over his glove.
“I knew I hit it well, and I knew it had pretty good backspin on it,” Colvin said. “It was going to be decided on how he read it, and he took a couple steps in.
Chris Nelson fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches, then singled to center past the drawn-in infield.
Brooklyn native Adam Ottovino and Rex Brothers (8-2) followed Chatwood with two innings each, and Willie Harris escaped a runner-on-second situation in the eighth.
Matt Belisle got his first save since June 22, 2010, against Boston following some ninth-inning drama. Pinch-hitter Justin Turner singled leading off and was sacrificed to second by Valdespin. Daniel Murphy flied to center and David Wright flied to right.
Colorado also swept a four-game series at Citi Field from April 11-14 last year — the Rockies’ longest road winning streak at one opponent in team history, STATS said.
“I think we’re throwing the ball really well right now as a staff,” Chatwood said.
Punchless New York went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and was held to two runs or fewer for the sixth straight game. The Mets dropped to 11-28 since the All-Star break, which includes a 2-14 mark at Citi Field, and are 11 games under .500 for the first time since they finished 70-92 in 2009.
“It’s a nightmare for everybody in this clubhouse,” catcher Josh Thole said.
“When it happens once, OK. When it happens again, all right guys, you’ve got to move on. But three nights in a row. And then four. And then it keeps mounting up. You can only say we’ve got to put this behind us so many times,” he said.
NOTES: Rockies CF Dexter Fowler was on crutches, his ankle wrapped, after spraining it Wednesday night. Manager Jim Tracy said he wasn’t available but the medical staff told him Fowler was day to day. … The Rockies also won five in a row from May 28 to June 1. … Gold medal-winning American gymnast Gabby Douglas threw out a ceremonial first pitch. It was a high, arching pitch from the front of the mound that was caught to the first-base side of the plate by pitcher Robert Carson. Having not bounced the ball, Douglas raised both arms in triumph.