Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jorge De La Rosa Helps The Rockies Avoid A Sweep In New York

In what could easily have turned into a complete nightmare of a series, Jorge De La Rosa put a positive spin on an otherwise terrible experience in New York.

After losing three games in a row for just the second time in the Jim Tracy era, being shut out in two straight games, De La Rosa put his foot down against the Mets. Following Jason Hammel's 1-1/3 inning performance earlier in the day, the hard throwing lefty showed the team the kind of talent that he has. He went 6-1/3 innings, giving up just two runs on three hits. He struck out five while walking three.

The first inning did not look good for the Rockies as the Mets had runners on first and third with no one out. Where earlier in the season a situation like that would most likely result in disaster for De La Rosa, he bared down and got out of the inning unscathed.

While the Rockies offense had gone 27 straight innings without scoring a run, De La Rosa decided to get the offense going all by himself. In the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1, De La Rosa came up to lead off the seventh. Hovering around .100 it seemed as if the first out of the inning was a freebie for the Mets. Instead, De La Rosa rapped a ball over centerfielder Angel Pagan's head for a double. After a quick out, struggling second baseman Clint Barmes stepped to the plate. Two nights prior, Barmes stepped to the plate with the bases loaded twice and failed to get the job done.

Thursday was different for Barmes, however, as he roped a ball high and deep to left field for a two-run home run. It ended up being the difference in the game for the Rockies, who went on to win 4-2 after Huston Street nailed down his 26th save of the season.

Instead of the Rockies heading into Cincinnati with their tails between their legs, the team heads off knowing that they are still in the thick of the wild card race and their rotation has four extremely solid starters to carry the majority of the workload.

The emergence of De La Rosa cannot be ignored. In danger of losing his spot on the roster in May, the lefty from Mexico has turned around his season. With the win on Thursday night De La Rosa broke a team record with seven consecutive wins. His record is now 9-7.

Beyond the record, the key for the Rockies and De La Rosa has been his complete turnaround in the confidence department. In May De La Rosa made a start in Atlanta that typified the career for De La Rosa. He gave up a couple of quick hits in the third inning on bloopers, did not get the corners called for him, and then got blown up. After the first two hits, it was written all over De La Rosa's face, he had zero confidence. The thought of gritting his teeth and getting the next out was nowhere near the lefties mind.

On Thursday when in a jam De La Rosa looked for ways to get quick outs and minimize the damage. He found ways to get the Mets to hit the ball softly and get outs.

While the talent has never been in question, De La Rosa's confidence was what was keeping him from being a contributing factor on a Major League roster. He never could turn the corner, creating doubt that he would ever maximize that potential.

It seems as if that corner has been turned, which could be perfect timing for the Rockies in this Wild Card race.

Despite losing the first three games of the road trip, the Rockies can still have a good road trip. They are a better team than the struggling Reds and should do some damage at their ballpark before getting a chance at revenge against the World Champion Phillies who took two of three from the Rockies at Coors Field to begin the season.

As far as the first game of the day, enough cannot be said about the performance of long-reliever Josh Fogg. When Hammel struggled he came in and got 12 outs, giving up only one run. He worked quick and began to get the game moving at a swift pace.

If Fogg would have struggled, it could have easily spelled a long day for the Rockies bullpen with two games on the docket.

The Rockies head to Cincinnati for a three game set with the Reds. The first game is at 5:05 Mountain Time with Cincinnati native Aaron Cook on the mound for the Rockies.

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