Monday, July 6, 2009

Jason Marquis Pitches Like An All-Star As Rockies Blank Nationals

At 30 years old, Jason Marquis was picked on Sunday to pitch in his first All-Star game. He accomplished that honor by leading the National League in wins with 10 heading into Monday night’s start.

After throwing an absolute gem against the Dodgers his last time out, Marquis proved that his performance was no fluke.

The righty from Staten Island dominated the Nationals for eight innings on Monday night, giving up seven hits and no runs. He was able to get out of two bases loaded jams in both the seventh and the eighth inning. In fact, in 2009 opponents have gone 0-for-9 against Marquis with the bases loaded.

In the seventh, with runners at first and third, Cristian Guzman and none out Marquis was able to induce a comebacker, which Marquis fired to third base, getting Adam Dunn out, getting a huge first out and getting the tying run off of third base. Josh Bard then roped a single into right field, which gave Brad Hawpe a chance to show off his arm, as the Nationals were smart enough to try to score the runner, Josh Willingham, from second. This left runners on first and third with one out. Marquis battled Ronnie Belliard and got him to bounce to Troy Tulowitzki for the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Marquis found himself in trouble again in the eighth inning, but once again was able to wiggle off the hook with a runner at third base and only one out.

When looking for a reason why this Rockies team is halfway through the season and still in contention in the National League West, look no further than Marquis.

He is the definition of a competitor. Marquis differs from other pitchers in that when he gets into trouble he does not get on himself or start to worry about what is going to happen. When he finds himself in trouble it becomes evident that Marquis believes that he will get out of the inning. He never once thinks that the next batter is going to hurt him. Marquis views the next hitter as his opportunity to make something good happen and help himself out.

After the eighth inning, after finding his way out of trouble for the second straight inning, but still holding onto a shutout and a low pitch count, manager Jim Tracy came over in the dugout to shake Marquis’ hand. With Marquis due up second in the bottom half of the eighth and a 1-0 lead, it seemed a no-brainer that Marquis’ night was over. However, Marquis refused to shake Tracy’s hand. It was not a snub, it was Marquis’ was of telling Tracy that he wanted the ball for the ninth inning.

While Huston Street did indeed come in to nail down the one run win in the ninth, Tracy had to have been smiling. There is not a manager in the league who would not love to have a starter who never wants to come out of the game.

The acquisition of Marquis in the offseason may prove to be the best pickup in the 10 years that Dan O’Dowd has been the general manager of the Rockies.

Without Marquis pitching every fifth day one can only wonder where Colorado would be at this point in the season. Of his 11 wins, eight have come after a Rockies loss, yet another example of Marquis’ grittiness and ability to not be affected by the past.

Marquis, leading the majors in wins, has now won at least 11 games in each of the last six seasons. His appearance in the All-Star game will be extra special for him, as he will be returning to his former home, St. Louis, to pitch in front of what used to be his home crowd. It will be an opportunity to show the team he once played for what they are missing out on.

The Rockies look to win their first series in July on Tuesday. The first pitch is at 6:40 with the game being broadcast on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and 850 KOA on the radio side. Jason Hammel will be on the mound for the Rockies.

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