Two pitches into the fourth inning, De La Rosa was perfect with his arm, but his groin was not. The lefty grimaced after getting behind Rafael Furcal 2-0. Trainer Keith Dugger and manager Jim Tracy came to the mound immediately. After a brief conversation, De La Rosa walked gingerly off the field.
Tracy was not willing to take any chances with his 16 game winner. Instead of throwing a few pitches to see if he could continue, Tracy wisely opted on the side of caution. With the Rockies already in the dance, there was no reason to push the issue. The Rockies initially called the injury “tightness in the groin.”
That would be good news for the Rockies. After an injury like that, there are two words that fans of a team are rooting against, strain and pull. Tightness, however, can be dealt with. The Rockies can take their time with the lefty, he is currently scheduled to pitch game three of the NLDS at home against the Phillies, but could be pushed back to Sunday if that is necessary.
The Rockies were hoping that they could win the West, but the fact of the matter is, they are in the playoffs and that is all that matters. Winning on the road is something that good teams know how to do. The Rockies are no strangers to winning on the road in 2009, notching a club-record 40 wins away from Coors Field.
There is a silver lining in Sunday’s game being meaningless. With Jason Marquis showing signs of fatigue, the team is not looking for a standout performance from the 15 game winner. To keep him sharp he will probably see the mound for five innings, but he should probably throw no more than 80 pitches. Marquis has been remarkably better with an extra day of rest in the second half of the season.
In his career Marquis is just below .500 on four days of rest at 46-49. On five or more days of rest, however, the All-Star is 45-30. Presumably Marquis will throw game four, next Sunday. That would give him six days of rest, and with a low-stress game on Sunday, Marquis should be well rested for the playoff appearance.
The loss should also be beneficial in giving some other starters a much needed day off. Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Yorvit Torrealba, and Carlos Gonzalez should find themselves in a comfortable seat in the dugout, giving their legs and back in Helton’s case, an extra day’s rest before heading into a stressful postseason.
After Sunday’s matinee the Rockies will head back to Denver before flying to Philadelphia, a familiar spot to open up a postseason. The Phillies will be looking for payback against a Rockies team that destroyed them in 2007, winning both games in the city of brotherly love before finishing off the sweep at Coors Field.
The Rockies were hoping to face the Cardinals in the first round. They have played them well, going 6-1 against them in ‘09. They were not so good against the Phillies, going 2-4. The problem for the Rockies against the Phillies may be their strong left handed starting pitchers. With Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, the Rockies will need to bring their best bats to the field. The lefty-heavy Rockies lineup has struggled against left handers, finishing right at .500 against south paws.
For the Rockies, they know that in order to be the best and be the last team standing when all is said and done, they must be able to beat the best teams. That means that they will need to find a way to hit good starting pitchers, or at least have their starting pitchers keep them in the game long enough to get into the bullpen.