After hovering around the .500 mark all season long, the Colorado Rockies broke through during a three game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks which finished on Thursday afternoon at a sun drenched Coors Field.
The back-to-back-to-back wins over the Diamondbacks was the first sweep of the season for the Rockies. The final game was capped off by back-to-back-to-back home runs off the bat of pinch hitter Seth Smith, out of the starting lineup with the flu, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Spilborghs.
Not only were the three home runs hit in succession, the home runs were hit on back-to-back-to-back pitches from Diamondback ace Dan Haren.
The feat was so rare that the last time it happened for the Rockies was way back in 2004 when Charles Johnson, Jeromy Burnitz and a young kid named Matt Holliday combined for three straight bombs.
Fifth starter Jason Hammel was impressive. He pitched 5-1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. He struck out eight and walked two. The righty was smooth sailing, throwing a shutout through five innings until theDiamondbacks got to him in the sixth inning.
The reason Hammel is a fifth starter is not because his stuff is below average. In fact, he has a very good curveball that fools hitters on a regular basis. The reason that Hammel is a fifth starter is because instead of getting stronger as the game goes along, the wheels tend to fall off later in the game. In his last start in Kansas City he had the same issue. Besides giving up two home runs to Jose Guillen, he was throwing a great game. Then the 7th inning hit and he looked like he forgot how to get an out.
The Rockies are in the middle of a 12-game stretch against the National League West. They have a very good opportunity to make a statement that they are no longer going to be the punching bag for the rest of the division. In 2009, despite going to the playoffs as a Wild Card team, the Rockies were eight games under .500 within the division. If they have any desire to win their first ever NL West title, that number must change.
The club did a good job of turning it around with the three game sweep of the D-Backs. The team is finally starting to hit on all cylinders. With the return of Jeff Francis, the rotation is anchored down solidly, and much-maligned offense has seemingly found it's stroke.
One of the biggest signs of the Rockies offense breaking through came not on the three straight home runs, but rather in the bottom half of the sixth inning. After the Diamondbacks pushed the score to 3-2, the Rockies answered back, putting up a run of their own. It came when Carlos Gonzalez once again victimized his old team, leading off the inning with a double. He eventually scored on a Jason Giambi sacrifice fly.
Giambi's at bat was a great example of a professional at-bat, and is the exact reason why the club signed the aging slugger. He took the first pitch he saw and lifted it to the outfield, deep enough to score the run. Instead of trying to hit the ball out of the park, he knew that he simply needed to score the insurance run that sat at third base.
The Rockies run into the Dodgers, the team that gave them the most struggles in 2009, for a three game weekend series. It would be a great chance for the team to prove that they are not going to roll over when they face the team from tinsel town.
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