Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Colorado Rockies Review: Franklin Morales Exceeds Expectations, Offense Thrives

From the first pitch of the game, the Colorado Rockies offense was clicking.

Dexter Fowler, making his first start of the year, laced the first pitch from Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis into the first row of the left field seats. It was the first Major League home run, first RBI, and first extra base in Fowler's young career.

Franklin Morales, named the fifth starter at the end of Spring Training, pitched better than anyone expected. He gave up one earned run on four hits, striking out six, a career high, and walking only one hitter in six innings.

The one walk is probably the most encouraging sign for the Rockies. Last season Morales struggled finding the strike zone and settling down when he got into trouble.

In the bottom of the first inning, Morales served a pitch to Stephen Drew, who proceeded to pound it into the right field seats, tying the game at one. At this point, Rockies fans were wondering if Morales would be in for a long day.

Morales showed maturity however, by coming back to strike out Chris Young and Conor Jackson to end the inning.

In the third inning, Ryan Spilborghs came up to bat with the bases loaded and drove a ball into the gap that scored two, then, with runners on second and third, Garrett Atkins hit a pitch that looked like it had a chance to get out of the park, but fell short, good enough for a sacrifice fly allowing Troy Tulowitzki to score from third.

With the score 4-1, Morales settled in and continued to dominate the Diamondbacks. There were some hard hit balls for Morales, who did not get a single ground ball out today. To go along with his six strikeouts, he had 12 fly ball outs.

The Rockies want Morales to get more ground ball outs, but will take an outing like today's from him anytime. Morales finished the game throwing 91 pitches, 57 for strikes, much closer to the ratio that the Rockies have been hoping for out of him.

The Rockies were given some breathing room in the seventh inning when catcher Yorvit Torrealba, followed immediately by an Ian Stewart home run. Already in this short season, the Rockies have gone back to back twice. The first time coming on Opening Day when Chris Iannetta followed Troy Tulowitzki.

The Rockies went on to add a run in the eighth inning and another two in the ninth to open the game up.

The Diamondbacks scored their second run in the ninth as Chris Young was hit by a pitch from Ryan Speier, he then took second base on defensive indifference then moved to third on a ground ball by Conor Jackson and scored on another ground ball by Mark Reynolds.

The Rockies end up taking the first series in Arizona since the 2007 season. They have also doubled their win total in Arizona from a year ago.

This game, though early, was crucial for the Rockies to shake their Diamondback demons and prove that they can be competitive whether at home or on the road in the 2009 season.

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