Friday, June 19, 2009

Rockies Keep Rockin': Win Again Against Pirates

These are not your father's Rockies.

Throughout much of their history the Colorado Rockies have been known for their exceptional offense and their less-than-exceptional pitching. Especially in games at Coors Field, the team would often put up seven or eight runs and still get blown out.

That is no longer the case as the 2009 Rockies are led by their exceptional pitching. On Friday night Jason Marquis had another outing in which he made general manager Dan O'Dowd look like a genius. Marquis nearly went the distance, throwing 8-2/3 innings and giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking three. Marquis held the Pirates to one run through eight innings before tiring in the ninth.

Alan Embree got the final out of the night to secure the 7-3 win for Colorado.

The win was the ninth of the season for Marquis, tied for the lead in the National League. The man who was traded for him, Luis Vizcaino, has been designated by assignment by two teams this season.

The outing by Marquis was just the latest great outing by a Rockies starter. During the winning surge, the Rockies starters are 13-1 with one no decision. The has only been one win in which the starter went less than six innings, and that was Sunday, when tornadoes delayed the game and forced Jason Hammel out after 5-2/3 innings.

The performances have kept the offense in the game long enough and close enough to be within striking distance of the opposition.

It is something that the "Blake Street Bombers" era of Colorado Rockies never experienced. It is arguable that the Rockies have one of the top five pitching staff's in the league.

While the pitching staff has carried the team through the run back to .500, the offense deserves it's fair share of the credit.

On Friday, Brad Hawpe continued his assault on opposing pitchers. He went 3-for-4, ending the night a triple shy of the cycle. Todd Helton also went 3-for-4 with two doubles, getting him within 12 doubles of his next career milestone, 500 career doubles.

While Hawpe and Helton have been the consistent producers in 2009, some other key members of the team have began to produce.

Troy Tulowitzki hit his 10th home run of the season, a two run shot in the fifth inning with two outs that essentially buried any hopes that the Pirates had. Tulo's resurgence is key if the Rockies want to continue contending. His protection of Brad Hawpe in the lineup means that Hawpe will see better pitches, knowing that a good hitter is on deck behind him.

The Rockies have now won 14 out of their last 15 games. The confidence exudes from the clubhouse and can be felt throughout the ballpark. The feeling is that no matter who the opposition is, no matter who is on the mound for the other team, the Rockies will find a way to win.

Unlike Rockies teams in the past, this team has the ability to depend on their starting pitching, which means that when the offense is able to get some hits and score some runs, they are more often than not in a position to win a ballgame.

The Rockies look to clinch another series on Saturday, it would be their fifth in a row. The game starts at 6:10 Mountain Time, broadcast on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and on the radio on 850 KOA.

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