Friday, April 1, 2011

Colorado Rockies drop opener, not time to panic

There has never been a must-win Opening Day.

Judging by the feeling outside of Coors Field following the Rockies 7-6, 11-inning defeat, it seemed as if the front office had pulled a fast-one on it's fans.

Statements of "this team isn't that good," and "there is no way that they should ever lose to the Diamondbacks" was the prevailing thoughts coming out of the few Rockies fans who had drank less than four beers.

The fact is, every team hopes to win their opener. It's a celebration of a new season, with renewed hope. The way to put an exclamation point on the party is by notching the first win.

Ubaldo Jimenez wasn't good. It's that simple. He was throwing in the mid-90's and even his outs were struck hard. With Jimenez's fastball never reaching his normal speed, thoughts rang back to interviews after his All-Star appearance in 2010. Jimenez was only throwing in the mid-90's on that day as well. Afterwards he said that the pre-game festivities, including a huge flag in the middle of the field, forced him to forgo his normal long-toss routine.

On Friday, the Opening Day festivities were extremely similar, and Jimenez warmed up by throwing no more than 100 feet. Throwing long toss allows the right-hander to stretch out more and gain the extra miles per hour.

At 0-1, the Rockies and their fans do not need to worry. Baseball is a funny game, and losing to the Diamondbacks is something that every team in the division will do on several occasions throughout the season, regardless of records.

Perhaps Jimenez giving up five earned runs in six innings will be a blessing for the club. In 2010, after an incredible start in which Jimenez didn't give up his 10th run until the end of May, it almost seemed like the Rockies had lost a game when flame-thrower didn't pitch a shutout.

If he can get a clunker or two out of the way early on, he can relax and simply pitch to win games instead of trying to throw a no-hitter every time he takes the mound.

There is no doubt that the Rockies need a strong April. They need to come out of the gate quickly. However, they do not need to win every single game, they need to win series'. They can still do that against the Diamondbacks this weekend.

The Rockies, while missing on several opportunities, showed that their lineup is going to be tough, top to bottom. Jose Lopez hit his first home run as a Rockie, while also notching a great game at 2nd base. Todd Helton looked far more comfortable at the plate than at any time in the 2010 campaign, and Seth Smith, one of the three Rockies looking for a breakout season, collected three hits.

The good news for the Rockies is that they get a chance to pick up their first win on Saturday.

If the Rockies pick up their first win, maybe fans will be able to quit grumbling.

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