Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rockies Battle Through Adversity, Beat Diamondbacks

Riding a four game losing streak and six out of their last seven, the Rockies were in need of a big game.
They were depending on Franklin Morales, who was added back to the starting rotation tonight after being sent down to continue getting regular work. After the starters had struggled in recent games, Morales was looking to keep the Rockies in the game for at least six innings.

After pitching two innings and delivering with an RBI single in the top of the third, Morales came out to warm up in the bottom half of the inning. He threw one warmup pitch to Yorvit Torrealba and Torrealba immediately recognized that there was a problem. He called trainer Keith Dugger to the mound and Morales night was done.

Glendon Rusch came in and promptly gave up two runs in the third inning. Overall Rusch gave up four earned runs in 2-1/3 innings.

A huge moment came in the fifth inning for the Rockies. With no one out, the Rockies had runners on second and third base. It almost seemed as if Colorado knew what was going to happen. Brad Hawpe, Ian Stewart and Clint Barmes all failed to score even a single run.

The bottom half of the inning arrived, and the Diamondbacks promptly put up two more runs.

This is where the club may have turned the corner. In previous days, Colorado would roll over and go through the motions, letting the opposing squad pile on more runs hoping the game ends soon enough to start looking for tomorrow.

Not tonight.

The Rockies bounced back in the sixth inning. Once again they had runners on second and third with no one out. Instead of swinging at every pitch and trying to force some runs across the plate, rookie Dexter Fowler worked a five pitch walk to load the bases. Ryan Spilborghs, battling through a season long slump, hit into a double play to plate a run. Then Todd Helton bounced a ball through the left side that scored two runs.

The Rockies ended up getting four runs in the inning, and a lead that they would not relinquish.

Todd Helton later launched his first home run of the season deep into the right field seats off of Jon Rauch. Helton had three hits tonight, and in the last two nights has continued looking more and more comfortable at the plate.

It was the first time this season that Colorado has found a way to grind through adversity. All of Spring Training the emphasis was on moving runners over and focusing on not trying to do too much. That was exactly what was not happening through the first 12 games of the season.

It seemed as if the Colorado offense finally relaxed and found a way to simply get good at-bats tonight and hit a good pitch.

Chris Young, the Diamondbacks center fielder, was credited with 11 putouts. None of the balls that were hit to Young were soft balls. In fact, several of them were hit all the way to the warning track.

When this offense settles down and does not worry about how they are going to force a base hit or try and put a ball into the seats. At that point, the offense becomes contagious and the hits keep rolling.

The bullpen was also a huge plus tonight. Matt Belisle, who had been struggling, worked 1-2/3 scoreless innings and earned the win. Alan Embree, Huston Street and Manny Corpas were all lights out tonight and seemed to have had their confidence on the back end of the bullpen.

If this Rockies team can play with confidence, and find their stride right now, they should be right in the mix of things in the National League West.

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