DENVER -- Properly motivated and fully in sync, the new-look Jon Gray will take the mound again for the Colorado Rockies on Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If an option to Triple-A Albuquerque in late June was a low point, his domination in four starts since his return has Gray riding as high as ever. In those four starts since July 14, Gray is 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA that takes into account two starts at Coors Field.
Gray (9-7, 4.73) has also held opponents to a .140 batting average over his last 29 2/3 innings with 25 strikeouts and seven walks. He went at least seven innings in the first three starts of his return and went eight innings Sunday. But he wants even more.
"I gave everything I had right there in the eighth inning to make it the best I could," Gray said after his outing last weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers, according to mlb.com. "It was tough. I really wanted to get back out there and have a (complete game), but (I know that's) going to come."
Going nine innings against a potent Dodgers' offense might prove difficult, but manager Dave Roberts' offense has been searching for consistency of late, even with recent power additions such as Manny Machado and Brian Dozier.
On Aug. 2, the Dodgers scored 21 runs in a victory over the Brewers, the most ever for the home team at Dodger Stadium. But they managed four runs total in the three-game series against the Houston Astros that followed. In a two-game series split this week at Oakland, the Dodgers scored seven runs.
Then came Thursday's series opener in Colorado when the Dodgers hit five home runs, including one from Dozier. Machado has not gone deep since July 30, but has a hit in each of his last five games.
"You really never know what you're going to get when a guy goes to a new club, but I think the intent, the at-bat quality to a man with those two guys has been very consistent," Roberts said about Machado and Dozier. "The results will be there, but I just like the approach on every pitch."
Regardless of how the Dodgers hit, they have to feel as if they have the right pitcher on the mound Friday. Kenta Maeda (7-7, 3.73) is 5-3 lifetime against the Rockies with a 2.18 ERA in nine appearances (seven starts). It is Maeda's lowest ERA against any team he has faced at least three times.
The Dodgers' 8-5 victory Thursday moved them into a tie for first place with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Los Angeles is an NL-best 38-22 since June 1. The Dodgers are 7-3 against the Rockies this season and have won all four games they have played at Coors Field this year.
Despite the defeat Thursday, the Rockies are 22-13 since June 28. Starting Thursday, the Rockies will play 30 of their final 48 games against NL West opponents, including 10 against the Dodgers.