On Friday night in Anaheim, the Rockies beat the Angels 4-3 thanks in large part to Jonathan Herrera. The second baseman finished the night 3-for-6. He scored the tying run and drove in the game-winning run.
After striking out in his first three at bats of the night the 25-year old did not allow that to affect his approach. He stepped into the box in the late innings and slapped three base hits that kept the Rockies in the game. The three hit night increased the Venezuelans batting average to .314. That is a considerable average considering he started the season 2-for-20.
Herrera is sitting on a seven game hitting streak. That number is significant because that is the exact number of games that it has been since Troy Tulowitzki went down with a broken bone in his wrist. When all seemed lost for the Rockies, they simply slid Clint Barmes over to shortstop and inserted Herrera into the everyday lineup at second base. It would be difficult to find anyone who thought that the Rockies weren't taking a step back, but Herrera has stepped in and made the loss of Tulowitzki far less hurtful.
Something that the Rockies organization prides itself in is their depth. They always talk about how they have someone ready to go when a player struggles or goes down with an injury. They have so much talent stocked away in the minor leagues that they have even been criticized for not trading some of their prospects to fill some holes at the Major League level.
For an example of how deep the Rockies are, consider the fact Herrera would still be playing in a Sky Sox uniform had Eric Young Jr. not gone down to injury. In fact, after having a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2008 after Tulowitzki injured his quad, Herrera was removed from the 40-man roster because the organization needed to protect some of their younger players from the Rule-5 draft.
Losing Troy Tulowitzki was not a blessing in disguise. A team never wants to lose their captain. Tulowitzki is to the Rockies what John Elway was to the Broncos. Anytime the team is playing a game without him in the lineup it is not a good thing. However, it may have been the wakeup call that the Rockies needed.
Sometimes when things get tough on the field it makes the rest of the team band together and fight a little harder. It forces other players to step it up. That is exactly what has happened for Colorado. Jason Giambi and Todd Helton have found their strokes at the plate and Clint Barmes has filled in phenomenally on defense at shortstop.
In addition to guys on the team stepping it up, the injury has given the team some life because kids like Herrera and Chris Nelson get their chance to prove what they can do at the Major League level. They have just a little bit more motivation to make a great play or get a big hit to show that they belong.
The Rockies investment in depth is paying off in a huge way right now. The club now sits at 5-2 since Tulowitzki went down, with three of the wins coming against good teams in the Red Sox and Angels, the other two coming against a pretty good Milwaukee team as well.
The Rockies look to prove they have turned the corner and win their third straight series on Saturday night in Anaheim.
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