Friday, June 17, 2011

Colorado Rockies show who they can be at the plate

It got to the point where people were questioning if they were as good as they had been touted.

The Rockies struggles in May, and through the first week of June, created doubters out of some of the biggest believers. On Friday, however, the Rockies showed that the talent is there.

Colorado made Detroit starting pitcher Rick Porcello look clueless on the mound as he tried every which way to shutdown a Rockies attack that saw 10 men stroll to the plate in a six-run second inning. No matter what Porcello did, the Rockies seemed to have an answer for it. Even Jason Hammel worked a bases loaded walk in the inning.

The Rockies offense is showing what it has the capability of being. They were patient at the plate, they worked counts, and they hit the ball where they needed to, when they needed to. Carlos Gonzalez has turned the corner, driving in four runs on a 2-for-4 night that included a double, a home run and a sacrifice fly.

Make no mistake about it, Troy Tulowitzki is still swinging a hot bat as well. The shortstop seems to be having the worst luck of any Rockie at the plate in 2011. Despite a boxscore that shows Tulo going 1-for-5, the story was different for those watching. The 26-year old scorched three balls that found their way into Tigers gloves, two balls to left field, and one to center field respectively.

Everyone knew that at some point, this offensive team would show up. It had to. There is simply too much talent in the Rockies clubhouse for the team to not put together a game like they had on Friday night.

The question now is whether they can continue to roll. They don't need to go out and score 13 runs a night to prove that they are a good offensive team. They don't even need to score half of that to get the job done. The key is proving that they can take quality at-bats. The Rockies need to build on what they have been doing over the past three games, which is getting the job done when they need to.

Getting the job done when it needs to get done does not necessarily mean hitting a home run either. Sometimes it is a base hit. Sometimes it is a walk, sometimes it is a sacrifice fly. The key is to simplify the game and focus on the task at hand at that moment.

One of the turning points for the Rockies might be the emergence of Charlie Blackmon. The left fielder has grabbed the starting job and not looked back. Most of the time, a kid coming up to the big leagues has talent, but spends the first few weeks looking like a deer in the headlights. They look shocked to have realized their dream, but overwhelmed at how to contribute.

Not Blackmon. He simply goes out and plays the game. On Friday he logged his second consecutive four-hit night. There are many big leaguers who play for years before accomplishing a four-hit night twice. Blackmon has done it before his second week in the league was complete. He has a confidence about him that gives off a feeling that he isn't going to make it easy for the club to send him back to Colorado Springs.

With a consistent lineup and a consistent approach at the plate, the Rockies might just be able to turn around a season that looked lost in May. They might be able to crawl back into a race in which they were headed in the wrong direction. If the Rockies can find a way to continue to battle at the plate, they still have time to nudge their way into contention.

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