Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rockies Tie Franchise Record With 11th Straight Win

Several tornadoes were spotted near Coors Field on Sunday afternoon, prompting a 55 minute delay as the storm passed over.

The Mariners were wondering why they waited until Sunday afternoon to delay the game due to the tornadoes. They had been feeling as if they were caught in the cyclone that is the Colorado Rockies since Friday night. After Sunday's 7-1 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, they must have been excited for the weather in any other city but Denver.

This team is a buzz saw. It was impressive enough when the Rockies swept a four game series in St. Louis a week ago, running their streak to five games, it was even more impressive when they came from behind twice in Milwaukee and swept the first place Brewers. It has become downright unbelievable after the Rockies extended the streak to a franchise-tying 11 straight games on Sunday at Coors Field.

There is not a single person who follows the Rockies that does not know exactly when that first streak occurred. It was the the beginning of the 21-out of-22 miracle that landed the Rockies in their only World Series.

Much like that magical run in 2007, this team is getting contributions from every single player on the team. Not only are the stars producing when they should be, every other member of the team has seemed to find a way to get a hit or throw a good pitch when it has been needed the most.

On Sunday it was fifth starter Jason Hammel's turn. If there was a day that the winning streak should have ended it was Sunday. Coming into the game Hammel had a record of 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA on the road. At home he was the polar opposite, going 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA.

During the first inning it looked as if Hammel had missed the team plane back to Denver again as he gave up a quick hit to Ichiro, then another base hit and a sacrifice fly, scoring Ichiro with only one out. Hammel, however, settled down, quickly getting two more outs on ground balls and finding his groove until the tornadoes ended his day.

Hammel was marvelous for 5-1/3 innings, giving up only the first inning run, on five total hits while striking out six and walking none.

The offense, once again unfazed by being behind, scratched out a run in the second, then another in the third inning. The game stayed close until the bottom of the fifth when the Rockies poured it on, scoring five runs, the highlight coming when the Mariners walked Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases and setup a double play for Chris Iannetta.

Iannetta made Seattle regret the move, driving a pitch to the center field wall, clearing the bases and knocking the Mariners out of the game before the tornado sirens roared in the top of the next inning.

Just like in '07, the key to the success of this Colorado squad has been the team effort day in and day out. While Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe continue to hit at an All-Star pace, the other members of the team have found their confidence as well, coming through at key times to help the ball club win.

The prime example of this cannot be more accentuated than the fact that five of the 11 wins in this streak have gone to Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Hammel, the fourth and fifth pitchers in the starting rotation, both of whom were wondering if they would still be on the roster just a few weeks ago.

Iannetta has struggled at the plate since returning from the disabled list, but found a way to contribute in a big way on Sunday. Clint Barmes, who most think of as a utility player who gets three starts a week at best, has torn the cover off the ball, raising his average to .289 and setting the table for the heart of the order. Jason Marquis, a Chicago Cubs castoff, was in line for his ninth victory of the season on Saturday and would have gotten it if he was given just a little run support early in the game.

Good players do not make a team good. Good players working together towards a common goal make a good team. The Rockies have figured that out in the last week and a half, and with one more win they have erased the terrible memories of the first two month of the season, getting back to even .500.

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