Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies Offense Continue Rolling Against Cardinals


Ubaldo Jimenez has all the talent and potential in the world. He can hit triple digits with his fastball and has a knee-buckling curveball. However, in his third season in the big leagues, his biggest struggle has been inconsistency.

He had no problems on Sunday, giving up only two runs on four hits through eight innings in the Rockies 7-2 victory. The only two runs he gave up came in the first inning on a very rare sacrifice fly in which both runs crossed the plate. Carlos Gonzalez, starting in left field, made a beautiful catch in the left-center gap off the bat of slugger Albert Pujols while falling over, both runners were able to tag up and score.

Briefly it looked like it may be a tough day for Jimenez as the clouds loomed and the rain spit sporadically in St. Louis. However, Jimenez found his groove and forced Cardinal hitters to either strike out or ground out all day long. In his eight innings, Jimenez got eight ground ball outs and nine strikeouts. His only walk was an intentional pass to Pujols in the sixth inning, right before he challenged Rick Ankiel with two fastballs that he blew by him for an inning ending strikeout.

It can be officially said that the Rockies offense is finding its groove.

During the first two months for the squad, it looked as it were like pulling teeth for the Rockies offense to score and then continue pouring on the runs. During the four game win streak the lineup has found ways to both score a run or several runs right when they needed them the most.

Sunday's offensive hero was slightly unsuspected as catcher Paul Phillips, filling in for the injured Chris Iannetta, went 4-for-5, delivering the tying run on a perfectly executed hit and run in the sixth inning. Later, with the Rox looking for a couple of insurance runs, Phillips launched a ball into the bullpens in left field to start a four run eighth inning that closed the door on the Cardinals.

Once again, Colorado put together a complete ball game. The offense did it's job, the pitcher's did their job, and the defense made plays to help secure the victory.

Like Saturday night, the victory creates the "what if" thoughts about the first two months of the season.

Sunday's game was another showing of what this team can do. The talent that sits in the dugout is undeniable, yet the first two months were an incredible struggle for a team that seemed to be playing on pins and needles waiting for their manager to lose his job.

Players are starting to turn the corner. Ian Stewart has put on a hitting clinic over the weekend, and Dexter Fowler, with his 11 pitch at-bat on Friday night showed that he is close to being able to turn into a very good hitter.

The Rockies go for a sweep-their first of the season if they get it-on Monday in St. Louis. Jason Marquis takes on another former opponent, so far this season he is 2-0 against teams that he used to pitch for, a good sign for the surging Rox.

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