Sunday, May 3, 2009

Despite Series Loss Colorado Rockies Turning The Corner


The Colorado Rockies went into San Francisco looking for to win consecutive series for the first time this season. The end result was not what they were looking for, but their are signs that the Rockies are ready to turn the corner.

Sunday's 1-0 loss in 10 innings was the Rockies seventh one run loss this season, they have yet to win a one run affair. That statistic alone is disheartening, but the other side of the table would suggest that a statistic like that will eventually start to even itself out.

It may sound a little strange to think that the Rockies could come away with a positive feeling after losing the weekend series against the Giants. However, there were several signs that the team is close to hitting on all cylinders.

The starting pitching for the Rockies, specifically Ubaldo Jimenez, has been extremely suspect to say the least in the early going. After Jimenez baffled the Diamondbacks in his season debut, it seemed as if the Ubaldo Jimenez that showed up that night must have missed the team plane in Arizona.

He was erratic on a cold day in Chicago, then could not find the zone in Los Angeles, before giving up four earned runs in the first inning in a game against the Dodgers at Coors Field.

Friday night was a different story. Jimenez pitched his way through seven strong innings, giving up three runs while walking two and hitting a batter. It was not the Jimenez that Rockies fans had seen in the past, but it was a step in the right direction. The only runs that scored were the runners put on via the walk or hit batsman.

Then came Saturday afternoon in which Jason Marquis continued to prove that he was the best offseason acquisition that the Rockies made. He threw a compete game five hitter, giving up only one run on five hits. The run coming in the ninth inning off the bat of Pablo Sandoval. It was the only bad pitch Marquis made all day. With the win, Marquis ran his record to 4-1.

After evening the series, the Rockies were anticipating the potential of a barn burning with Jason Hammel and Barry Zito going head to head.

The game was anything but a barn burner.

Zito pitched seven strong innings, giving up only two hits and walked one.

Hammel, acquired just before opening day from the Rays, matched Zito nearly pitch for pitch.

Before the game Rockies manager Clint Hurdle mentioned that his goal for Hammel was simply to get into the fifth inning. To say the least, Hurdle had to have been thrilled with the results.

Hammel pitched six strong innings, giving up a hit in every inning and walking two, but getting out of every jam. The feeling the whole time Hammel was on the mound was that he would figure out a way to get outs. He kept batters off balance with a nasty curveball. He induced 12 groundball outs.

The Rockies lost the series, but after encouraging starts by Jimenez and Aaron Cook, and the success of Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Marquis, the Rockies have a very good chance of turning their early 9-14 record around.

Most teams are looking for three quality starters and two guys on the back end to hold their own against the competition. The Rockies are looking at having four quality starters, with a very capable Hammel in the fifth spot. In addition to that, Franklin Morales should return to the Rockies in a month or so looking to compete for a spot in that same rotation.

If the lineup can continue to find their groove, which they seem to be recently with Ryan Spilborghs and Todd Helton both swinging hot bats, the Colorado Rockies should find themselves in a good position to make a run.

They just need to make sure they are not too far out of the race to make it worthwhile.

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