Saturday, May 16, 2009

Brad Hawpe Making A Strong Case For His First All-Star Appearance

On Friday night in Pittsburgh, the Colorado Rockies embarked on a 10 game road trip that, in mid-May, would define whether or not they still have a chance at winning the National League West in 2009.

A familiar scene was taking place, as Jorge De La Rosa continued his excellent season, pitching seven innings, striking out 10 and giving up only one run. That scene is the good side of things. The opposite side is the fact that it seems like the offense goes to the plate without a bat in their hands when De La Rosa is pitching his heart out.

As the Rockies rolled into the ninth inning without a run it seemed as if they would be shut out for the fifth time in 2009. However, Brad Hawpe had a different idea.

After a pinch hit double by Ian Stewart, Hawpe unloaded on a 1-2 pitch from Matt Capps. He deposited the pitch over the center field wall, giving the Rox a 2-1 lead. After a Matt Murton pinch hit RBI, Colorado had a 3-1 lead.

Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the side and earning his fifth save.

In a disappointing season, it seems easy to point out the failures of the squad. Garrett Atkins has struggled beyond a typical slump and it seems like the Rockies have found a new way to play horribly every single day.

However, the season that Brad Hawpe is having needs to be noticed. After hitting the game winning home run, Hawpe is hitting .363. He has six home runs and 30 RBI's so far.

When most of his teammates are struggling to find their stroke, Hawpe is quietly hitting the ball like he never has before. He is carrying this team in a time when finding someone to be a hero is like pulling teeth.

It would be misleading to say that the Rockies have rolled over when they got in trouble. The offense has actually shown quite a bit of fight. Unfortunatley, the results just have not been there. The Rockies had only won one game in which they did not score first. That is a stat that will have to change if the squad plans on contending.

That changed on Friday when Hawpe smacked the pitch out of the park, giving the struggling Rockies a win. At this rate, Hawpe, who less than two years ago was riding the bench against lefties, deserves to be the Colorado representative in the All-Star Game. If the game was held today, he and Todd Helton would be locks for an appearance.

Hawpe's performance should not be taken for granted. His demeanor has been quite a bit different so far in 2009. While he is still a quiet leader, he seems to have more confidence in his swing. He never seems defeated at the plate.

In the past, Hawpe has always been seen as a streaky hitter who would always go through prolonged slumps. This season though, it seems that his confidence may have reached a point where he may not go through that part of a slump that brings his average back down to the .280 range. The way he looks at the plate, it would not be inconceivable to think that he could finish the year well above .300.

Brad Hawpe is one player on the Rockies this season that he really stepped up and been a leader on the field. If he is not an All-Star, something needs to be changed with the selection process.

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