Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rockies Victory Laced With Worry After Street Injury

The old saying goes you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

The Rockies are hoping that is not reality when they wake up in the morning.

The Rockies, behind eight strong innings from ace Ubaldo Jimenez and a pinch hit two-RBI single off the bat of Jason Giambi, beat the Mets 5-2 on Wednesday night at Coors Field. The big hit came after Troy Tulowitzki singled in the bottom of the eighth with one out.

Brad Hawpe, owner of a second half slump that has some fans wondering if he is healthy, came through in a huge way after being 0-for-3 with two miserable looking strikeouts. On a two strike pitch, Hawpe hit a ball the other way that landed about a foot inside the white chalk on the warning track down the left field line. The double put runners at second and third with one out.

After the Mets intentionally walked Stewart it seemed that the Rockies were watching a repeat of the last few weeks. Clint Barmes was due up in a clutch situation and an opportunity to fail. Instead, manager Jim Tracy went to his latest weapon off the bench, a man who has hit over 600 Major League home runs in Jason Giambi.

Giambi lined the first pitch he saw into center field for a base hit, scoring two runs and giving the Rockies a 4-2 advantage, putting Jimenez in line for the win. The Rockies tacked another run on the board after hot-hitting catcher Yorvit Torrealba singled to plate Stewart.

The crowd gave Giambi a long ovation as he came out in favor of Omar Quintanilla on the base paths and was rewarded with a loud cheer from the crowd as he returned to the dugout.

The excitement turned to concern, however, in the top of the ninth when, instead of Huston Street who has converted 33-out-of-34 save opportunities in a Rockies uniform. With Rafael Betancourt frantically getting warming up in the bullpen, Franklin Morales strolled to the mound. While the Rockies had a three run lead, this is not the point in a season in which a team gives an opportunity to a different guy, especially when Street has only pitched once in the last seven days.

Morales was perfect in the ninth, securing his first career save.

While Morales doing his job was comforting, losing Street for any amount of time would be a total disaster to the Rockies. Street has been the glue of the bullpen the whole season. He has been nearly perfect and has made general manager Dan O'Dowd look like a genius for picking both he and Carlos Gonzalez up in the Matt Holliday trade.

The initial diagonsis for Street is tendinitis in his biceps. That could be good news and it could be bad news. The only real cure for tendinitis is rest. Even then, depending on the severity, could flare up quickly again after the period of rest. Street, in fact, blames the tendinitis on his lack of time on the mound in the last week.

The Rockies are planning on taking the injury day-to-day, hoping that the injury takes care of itself and is indeed just tendinitis. If it turns out to be something worse it appeared clear on Wednesday night that Morales will take the reigns and close games for the Rockies. It is a roll that he may fit right into. He has been great in his late inning work so far out of the bullpen and is able to keep his focus much better than when he was starting.

With the Giants win, the Rockies win was a big one, keeping them one game ahead of their division foes for the Wild Card.

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