Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rockies Even NLDS Series Behind Aaron Cook And Yorvit Torrealba

This was nothing new for the 2009 Colorado Rockies. This Rockies team has had more drama than a junior high sleepover. While the drama was another test on Rockies fans nerves, the results were worth it.

Aaron Cook was phenomenal against a great Phillies lineup. He went five solid innings before tiring in the sixth. In the sixth he found himself getting behind hitters. After giving up a double to Ryan Howard and then a run scoring base hit by Raul Ibanez, Cook’s day was over.

Cook did exactly what the Rockies were looking for. He kept the team in the game long enough for the offense to get a lead and give the Rockies a chance to go home with a 1-1 tie in the series.

The offense got to the scoring early. Carlos Gonzalez, hitting leadoff instead of in the two-hole, led off the game with a single. Phillies starter Cole Hamels threw over to first base to keep Gonzalez close. The speedy outfielder was going on first move and made it to second base before first baseman Ryan Howard could get the ball to Jimmy Rollins who was covering the bag. Dexter Fowler, hitting in the two-hole, laid down a bunt, moving Gonzalez to third base. Todd Helton then hit a swinging bunt up the first base line. Hamels fielded the ball and tried to get Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez’s speed was too much and he was in safe, giving the Rockies a lead that they would not relinquish.

In the fourth inning with Helton on first, Yorvit Torrealba put his stamp on the game. He launched a hanging breaking ball deep into the left field seats, his first home run since May 6th. It gave the Rockies a three run cushion and a chance to breathe.

The Rockies added two more runs off the bat of Fowler, who hit two separate sacrifice flies in a sign of his continued maturity. Those two runs turned out to be huge as the Rockies ended the game with the tying run at second base as Huston Street nailed down the final out.

The win was huge for the Rockies. Instead of coming back to Coors Field with their backs to the wall, needing to win three straight games, they now have the momentum in the series, and home field advantage in their back pockets.

While Fowler’s two sacrifice flies ended up being the difference in the game, enough cannot be said about the importance of Yorvit Torrealba.

Listen to the average Rockies fan and all that is talked about with Torrealba is negative. He can’t throw, he can’t call a good game, he can’t hit for power, he can’t hit lefties.

Watch Torrealba play and it is quickly clear why he took over once again as the everyday catcher. He is a gamer. He plays the game hard. Every pitch he is finding a way to make an impact. Watch Torrealba when he is catching one of the Rockies young pitchers. His leadership shines through when he coaches Ubaldo Jimenez to throw strikes, or Franklin Morales to settle down. In the post game press conference Torrealba consistently deferred credit back to the pitching of Aaron Cook.

At the plate Torrealba consistently does what some of his teammates struggle with. He always knows the situation and knows what he needs to get done. In San Diego with the Rockies down by a run with two outs in the ninth inning Torrealba drove a 3-2 fastball into the gap at Petco Park off of All-Star closer Heath Bell, propelling the Rockies to victory. Against the Cardinals two weekends ago, Torrealba came up in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied and the tying run at third base. The catcher found himself in a 0-2 hole. Instead of trying to do too much, Torrealba simply found a pitch that he could hit deep enough to the outfield to score the run and win the game for the Rockies.

His humble, hard-working approach epitomizes the attitude in the clubhouse that has helped this Rockies franchise to two postseason appearances in three years. While Torrealba’s throwing arm makes it difficult to throw runners out, the benefits that the club gets from the Venezuelan cannot be measured.

When looking for a reason why the Rockies are playing baseball instead of dusting off their golf clubs, look no further than Torrealba. Without him this team does not make the playoffs.

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