DENVER -- Any time you take the mound at Coors Field, you know you're likely in for a shootout. When you do so after your team scored 19 runs in the first game of a doubleheader, you probably expect an extra layer of fireworks, too.
Yet Dereck Rodriguez experienced none of that. In his return to the big leagues, the Giants managed just two runs. It was a normal game, the type you would find at sea level. Luckily for the Giants, they handed the ball to a pitcher who somehow finds Coors Field to be a completely normal place to pitch.
Rodriguez made his big league debut here last year and has said repeatedly that he feels comfortable in the game's toughest park for pitchers. He likes the rubber. He likes the way he feels here. On Monday, he looked right at home while leading the Giants to a 2-1 win.
"I like the way the mound feels and for me that's a big thing," he said. "If you feel comfortable with the mound, it doesn't matter where you pitch."
There are few pitchers who have ever felt that way in Denver, but Rodriguez was the right guy to have going in Game 2 of a doubleheader that showed off a versatile and -- dare we say it -- suddenly good baseball team. The Giants won a shootout and a nail biter to run this streak to 10 wins in 12 games and get back within four games of .500 for the first time since May 7. They continue to chase down the lead pack in the Wild Card race.
When Rodriguez returned to the team previously, he found a group that was losing just about every night and headed nowhere. This time, he could feel the difference right away after spending a couple of weeks in the minors preparing for this start.
"I feel the momentum," he said. "You can sense it, man. You can feel the energy."
Most of that came from a stunning offensive performance in the afternoon, and in the evening the Giants got another homer from Brandon Crawford and a solo shot from Stephen Vogt. The bullpen was brilliant, with Sam Dyson striking out the side in the eighth and Will Smith getting through the heart of the order in the ninth.
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Rodriguez was asked to get through just five innings, and he allowed just one run on four hits. He struck out six and did so with swagger.
"The body language said it all," Vogt said. "Whatever you want to call it -- he was focused and locked in. He was determined. It was great."