Chad Bettis’ teammates have been wanting to help him out of a bad situation all year, they finally were able to.
Bettis made his return to the mound on Monday night after beating testicular cancer. The very first batter he faced hit a soft liner to left that Gerardo Parra (probably mistakenly) dove for. The baseball rolled all the way to the wall and Braves centerfielder Ender Inciarte raced around the bases: bad situation.
"I was like 'Oh no'," Bettis said after the game.
"I don't think I've ever seen that before, the first batter of the game?," Manager Bud Black said.
Of course it’s nothing compared to a life threatening fight with testicular cancer, but for months Chad’s teammates could only watch and support Chad as he went through surgery and chemotherapy. Now, back on a baseball field, they could finally help him out of a jam.
Parra made up for his mistake by running the ball down, making a great throw to Trevor Story who relayed the ball to Jonathan Lucroy at the plate. Inciarte was tagged out at home trying to leg out an inside-the-park home run. Bettis rolled from there.
"I don't think I was really in tune with what was going on until about the 5th," Bettis said. "Just so many emotions and I was trying to get them under control but it was taking so much longer than what was expected. It was great I was just trying to soak it all in."
His teammates had his back.
Bettis got some more help in the fourth inning when D.J. LeMahieu made a diving stop on a two out ground ball. Had it gotten through the Braves would have taken a 1-0 lead. After D.J. made the throw to Mark Reynolds the inning was over and the game remained scoreless.
But the bats weren’t there. Bettis got Nick Markakis looking to end the sixth inning. He walked off the mound with the game still 0-0.
Chad pitched around a leadoff double in the 7th. He once again headed back to the dugout without a single ounce of run support. The Rockies couldn’t manage anything off of Atlanta starter Juliio Teheran.
The Rockies took the lead in the 8th inning. Charlie Blackmon lead off with a triple and eventually scored when Gerardo Parra’s grounds squirted past Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. At that point Bettis was no longer the pitcher of record. Colorado went on to win the game 3-0.
It went in the books as a no decision for Bettis. Seven innings of scoreless baseball on the first night he took the mound at Coors Field as a cancer survivor.
"From what everyone has told me about this fella, seeing him do what he did tonight doesn't surprise me," Black said. "That was a great effort. Would you think he would come out and throw seven scoreless innings? I don't know. But he did. I say it all the time, that why we play to find these things out. To see how this guy responds. On a night that I'm sure was emotional for him and his family, and the people they're close to."
Although he didn’t get the win he was a major part of the Rockies victory, on a great evening at Coors Field.
"It crept in this morning, when I woke up," Bettis said. "Just thinking about everything that had happened and everything that my family and I had been through. I was holding back tears until the start."
The 3-0 victory was nice. The real win was Chad simply taking the mound again.