Sunday, April 24, 2011

Despite demoralizing lose, Colorado Rockies can take positives from Sunday game

It's tough to see the bright side of a game in which a three-run homer immediately following a valiant comeback shattered the hopes of a road win.

However, the Colorado Rockies can head to a much colder Chicago with some positives.

Sure, Mike Stanton crushed a Matt Belisle pitch deep into the orange sea of seats at whatever-it's-called-this-year park in Miami. Sure, the Rockies come from behind fell short when Seth Smith couldn't get the go-ahead run home. Sure, it is a disappointing end result for the Rockies.

The difference? Rockies fans are exhaling everywhere, relaxing about their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, returning to form. Was he completely back to the Jimenez of 2010, no. But for four innings he was. After looking like the shell of that pitcher, and having fans start to question whether the injured cuticle had more to do with the club's fear of a shoulder issue.

The tank hit empty in the fifth inning for Jimenez. It was apparent that he simply didn't have it anymore. However, the first four innings was exactly what everyone had been hoping to see.

It was just four innings, but one or two more starts, and those four innings will suddenly turn into six or seven innings as the Dominican builds up arm strength.

The other extreme positive for the Rockies was the fact that they once again came from behind. So far in this young season, the Rockies have made a habit of doing something that they consistently failed at. In 2010, when the Rockies got down be a run or two, they shut it down and seemed to sulk, hoping for better results the next day. In 2011, the Rockies have fought back when they have been down, scratching back into games.

Despite the early season success of getting back into games, it was easy to dismiss that as bad teams having bad pitchers on the mound.

Sunday dispelled that though, as the Rockies found ways to get to Josh Johnson, perhaps the best right handed pitcher in the National League, and despite the fact that he had his best stuff through the first five innings. Is not as if Johnson was off of his game. He was un-hittable in the early going.

So while the game goes down in the books as a loss, and the Rockies leave whatever-its-called stadium for the final time, they can head to Chicago knowing that they can score runs on anyone in the league, regardless of who they are, and regardless if they have their best stuff or not.

The Rockies have definitely come back to earth from their hot start, but they certainly are still showing signs of turning the corner from the team that they were last year.

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  1. Sad to see Ubaldo struggle so mightily. He limped across the finish line last year(as did the rest of the Rockies), and he's stunk it up so far this year. Looking more and more like last year was a flash in the pan for a few months. I would love to see him prove me wrong though.

    About Sun no-Life Stadium. Announced attendance numbers are a joke. Looked like about 4 to 5 thousand on Friday nite. Their owner must have very deep pockets, and a great love of baseball to keep this up.


  2. Rocky-
    I disagree. I don't think Ubaldo struggled mightily. He didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning, when he was clearly out of gas. He missed a start in spring training, then went on the 15-day DL after opening day. He is still building up arm strength. His next outing he will go into the sixth or seventh with the same dominance.

  3. I thought Ubaldo was great yesterday. His main problem was that he occasionally got a little wild, which was his main problem last year too. So to me, that means the 2010 Ubaldo is back!

  4. M.Hoag-
    I agree, and frankly, I think his wildness plays into him being a dominant pitcher. Its tough to dig in to the box when you know a 98 MPH heater might be coming in your direction. The key to me was that the velocity was back on his fastball. He needs to be around 97 or 98 to do what he needs to do.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. I don't expect 15-1, but Ubaldo is flat. His velocity is comming back, to be sure. But, three flat starts in a row, in the regular season is inexcusable for a top-tier starter. To my eye, he's looking a lot like the guy who struggled after the all star game last year. I almost get the vibe there is something else going wrong with him. Probable nothing that a complete game shut-out wouldn't cure:)

    Thanks for a great fan based web-site. I look forward to visiting often.


  6. Rocky-
    Thanks for the comments, and thanks for visiting the site. I hope you enjoy it.

    I'd be willing to bet that in the next two or three starts we are going to see the first half 2010 Ubaldo Jimenez. Maybe not the no-hitter Ubaldo Jimenez, but I think he will be dominant again. He just needs a start or two more.

  7. One huge positive for the Rox so far has been the first two spots in their order. Fowler has been great, and the top of the order has scored 32 runs in only 21 games. That's second in the MLB, and it's the reason why the Rockies come in at #5 in the Leadoff Rankings. Check it out:

  8. Leffty,
    Thanks for the link. There is no doubt about it that the guys at the top of the lineup are getting the job done for the Rockies. Jonathan Herrera has been a huge positive surprise for the Rockies.