Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Colorado Rockies Lose Opening Day Slugfest

It was a game for all of the pessimists to say "I told you so."

The Rockies lost a home-run derby type game that most would have thought was played at Coors Field rather than at Chase Field in Phoenix. The final score of the slugfest was 9-8 in favor of the Diamondbacks.

The Colorado Rockies have had an offense that set out at the beginning of spring training to prove that the lose of Matt Holliday would not be as huge as most analysts thought. They proved that, with every regular hitting above .300 for the exhibition season.

Despite the offensive force that is without a doubt a powerful one, there have been whispers since early in spring that the Rockies needed to add another quality arm or two. Despite entering camp with the most depth on the mound that the team has ever had, some figured it would not be enough. Many believed that Jorge De La Rosa and Franklin Morales would not be a good enough back end of the rotation to hold things together.

Today's starter, Aaron Cook, is coming off a 16 win season and his first All-Star appearance. He is garnering the respect from around the league as a premier pitcher worthy of an "ace" title. In the game of baseball, however, every man will face a day like Cook had today. His day ended after throwing only 55 pitches, throwing 2-1/3 innings and giving up six runs.

Days like that are inevitable for any starting pitcher. Most just hope it doesn't happen when the offense lights up a former Cy Young winner and perennial upper-teens winner, Brandon Webb.

Webb did not fare much better giving up six runs on six hits in four innings. Brad Hawpe continued his tear on Webb by notching two hits, one a rocket back up the middle and the second a bases loaded double that cleared the bases.

Anytime the Rockies offense got something going, the man on the mound seemed to give it right back to the Diamondbacks. The Rockies scored four in the third to take a 4-2 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Diamondbacks matched them with four runs of their own. Same story in the 4th, 5th and 7th innings.

Cook never seemed comfortable on the mound, routinely forcing pitches and getting out in front of his delivery, causing his pitches to rise. Although Cook would not blame the bad outing on opening day nerves. Cook told Troy Renck of the Denver Post that his performance was due to a rushed delivery and not because of the jitters.

While the pitching is an obvious concern, the offense showed that it may be as good as any of the "Blake Street Bombers" from the past. Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith each launched monster home runs.

Never did it seem as if the offense felt that they could not handle Webb. They were relentless on him, working counts deep and staying aggressive on the basepaths. Every starter for the Rockies logged at least one hit except for Garrett Atkins. Even Cook notched a hit against Webb, starting the rally in the 4th inning.

The Rockies will try to shake their off their woes against the Diamondbacks tomorrow as Dan Haren goes against Ubaldo Jimenez.

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