Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chacin nearly untouchable as Rockies roll to series victory

Colorado Rockies fans, you have a new ace.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jhoulys Chacin looked like a man among boys as he dominated the San Diego Padres. His performance has gone far beyond what anyone would have expected from the second-year pitcher.

His final line in the win was six innings pitched, one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven. His only real mistake of the game came in the fifth inning, when Padres catcher Rob Johnson smacked a hanging slider over the 390 foot sign in left-center. Beyond that, he was nearly flawless.

With the win, Chacin moves to just one win behind the National League leaders for wins. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels of the Phillies are tied with nine wins apiece. Chacin's ERA is a measly 2.81, which is also among the league leaders.

It might have sounded like a stretch at the beginning of the season, but the reality is, Chacin has put together an All-Star worthy first half. He could conceivably finish the first half of the season with 11 wins and have an ERA below 3.00. With numbers like that, not giving him a spot on the All-Star team would be a crime.

With all of Chacin's success, it is easy to forget that he is just 23-years old. Almost a year-and-a-half younger than Juan Nicasio, the latest farm system product to produce good results in a Colorado Rockies uniform. Chacin was highly-touted in the minors, but as he neared his Major League debut, many were saying that he didn't possess ace-stuff, that he would top out as a number two or three in the big leagues.

Chacin's performance at such a young age is silencing those doubters. With more MLB seasoning, Chacin could prove to be every bit of a Major League ace, and not one who disappears after a couple of good seasons. His stuff is good enough to anchor a rotation for years.

In addition to Chacin's work on the mound, the Rockies offense finally seems to be turning the corner. Against another team's ace in Mat Latos, the Rockies were patient and waited for their chance to break through. They got that chance in the sixth inning, when they belted seven singles in a row to score five runs and put the Padres away.

Charlie Blackmon, still under 10 games of Major League service time, recorded his first three-hit game. That goes along with three two-hit games. If that isn't impressive enough, the Georgia Tech star is 4-for-4 in the stolen base department. He is bringing an element to the game that the Rockies haven't seen all season long.

The Rockies now look ahead to a three game set with the Detroit Tigers, who come into Coors Field extremely hot, recently taking over control of the American League Central lead. The Rockies need to get to work early because they are scheduled to face Justin Verlander on Sunday, who is fresh off nearly throwing his second no-hitter of the season.

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