Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rockies Cook Up A Sweep In Oakland

Aaron Cook took over the all time Rockies lead for wins by a pitcher on Monday in Anaheim. On Sunday he decided to add to his lead. He was three outs away from a complete game shutout before manager Jim Tracy gave him the hook and brought in closer Huston Street to ensure the win.

After surviving another scare, the Rockies won the game 3-1, completing the sweep of the A's and heading to Los Angeles for the biggest series of the first half of the season.

In the win Cook pitched 8+ innings, giving up nine hits and one earned run. He walked one while striking out four.

Cook was absolutely incredible. After a horrible start to the season, the right hander has looked incredible in June, going 5-0 and leading the National League in wins during the month. At 8-3 and still three starts to go before the All-Star break, Cook still has an outside chance at earning his second consecutive All-Star appearance.

Cook's resurgence in many ways mirrors that of his team over the last month. Early in the year it was clear that Cook had better talent than what he was showing on the mound, but he looked lost. He looked as if he could not find the grip on the pitches that he wanted to throw and was forced to give in on certain occasions.

The Rockies looked the same way. They knew that the lineup was chalk full of talent. They knew that the top three pitchers in their rotation could compete with anyone, yet they could not find their groove.

If there is a way to explain how well the Rockies have been playing, the sweep in Oakland should use as a prime example. Until the early June sweep on the Cardinals, Colorado had exactly zero sweeps on the season. Just winning a series was a big deal for the struggling team.

Now, the Rockies complete a sweep of the A's and the feeling is not that of satisfaction. The club nearly blew a nine run lead on Saturday night and once again made it too close for comfort on Sunday. The feeling was that the team did not play as well as they knew how to.

Yet, the fact remains, the Rockies swept the A's.

Six weeks ago if the Rockies would have been told that they would sweep the A's in Oakland they would have been extremely happy, not only for a sweep, but for a sweep on the road. Now, after completing the sweep there is a feeling that the team must play better than they did.

When thinking about the sweep, consider the fact as well that the first two starting pitchers were number four and number five starters Jason Hammel and Jorge De La Rosa, respectively.

One of the biggest reasons for Colorado's June success has been the fact that the team knows that they will have a chance to win every single night.

In June, De La Rosa and Hammel have combined to win eight games.

The final two spots in the rotation is not simply a give-away game, or even a flip of the coin. The back of the rotation has been as solid as any other part of the team. De La Rosa has had his fair share of trouble, but the fact is, he went 4-1 in June and pitched well enough to keep his team in the game, and that is all that is asked of the back end of the rotation.

The Rockies head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, a team that has beaten them eight out of nine times this season. While the Rockies have faced tests during this run, the three games against the Dodgers will be a true sign of whether this team is just good, or if they truly have a chance to contend in the National League West.

Going into the series the Rockies are 7-1/2 games behind the Dodgers. For the Rockies to be in the race they will need to be somewhere in the five games behind range by the All-Star break. Taking two out of three in Los Angeles will get the Rockies to 6-1/2 games back and well within striking distance.

1 comment:

  1. Boo...I know you guys have been saying it for years but there is always next year