The Rockies would be lying to you if they told you that they were not taking an occasional glance at the scoreboard during the first couple innings of their game on Tuesday at Coors Field. Right before game time the Phillies held a 1-0 lead over the Giants in the seventh inning. With Brad Lidge faltering for the Phillies, that lead did not seem safe.
Once the out-of-town scoreboard operator put up the "F" to let everyone know that the Giants had lost, the Rockies decided to break out their bats.
After Jorge De La Rosa struggled through the first inning, giving up two early runs, the Rockies looked like they may continue a disturbing trend, getting behind early and failing to come back.
Instead, the Rockies answered in the bottom half of the first inning, scoring a run of their own, then made Mets starter Mike Pelfrey look bad in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs to give themselves a 4-2 lead. The tying run came on a Carlos Gonzalez bullet to right field the landed in the second deck, a shot that the scoreboard reported at 410 feet, but if the ball were to have flown without the stadium getting in the way would have been closer to 460 feet.
In the fourth Todd Helton essentially put the game away for the Rockies, hitting a long three-run home run on the first pitch that he saw in the at-bat.
The game was a huge one for the Rockies. The main reason being that it showed the maturity of starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa. His line looked clean, six innings, two runs, one earned on three walks and six strikeouts. Not bad. However, De La Rosa came out of the game after throwing 100 pitches, only 50 for strikes.
If a starting pitcher is having a good day he should throw about two strikes for every ball. De La Rosa was 50/50 on Tuesday night. While that is not something that should be celebrated, it really does make a difference for the Rockies.
If De La Rosa would have had a similar outing in April, he would have given up six or seven runs. The first inning would not have only yielded two runs, the Mets would have exploded and put a four or five spot on the board.
For this Rockies team to go to the playoffs, they are going to need workman like performances from De La Rosa and the rest of the pitching staff. Instead of giving up the big innings when the starter does not have his best stuff, finding a way to bare down and get outs, however they come.
The game is a testament to the fact that De La Rosa is becoming a very good Major League pitcher, something that three organizations prior to the Rockies had given up on.
The Brewers, Diamondbacks and Royals all said that De La Rosa was a lost cause and that his mental issues would never allow him to harness the talent that he has from the left side.
The Rockies took a chance on him, and are being rewarded by watching a star bud in front of their eyes.
With the win and the Giants loss the Rockies moved back in front in the Wild Card standings. They must continue their dominance of lesser teams in order to extend this lead before heading into San Francisco for another three game series against the Giants later in September.