Friday, June 24, 2011

Colorado Rockies take first game in New York against the Yankees

They went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They left 11 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded on two separate occasions. They couldn't seem to get the knockout blow when they needed it most.

But they won.

On Friday night in the Bronx. The Colorado Rockies, led by a 3-for-4 night from Jason Giambi, and a stellar pitching performance from Ubaldo Jimenez, won the opener of a three-game set at the new Yankee Stadium.

Giambi, after receiving cheers in his return to New York, launched a 2-0 pitch deep into the right-center field bleachers, a no doubt home run. The blast seemed to return the rest of the Rockies to a baseball feel. Both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki seemed hyped playing their first games on the stage that it Yankee Stadium. After Giambi's blast, the rest of the club seemed more relaxed, and willing to work the count instead of swinging at everything AJ Burnett was throwing to them.

Early on it didn't look good for Jimenez. The former ace was having trouble hitting his spots. After walking Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, Jimenez gave up a double down the line to Alex Rodriguez, scoring Granderson from second. Luckily for Jimenez, Robinson Cano's smoked liner found its way into Chris Nelson's glove, and he alertly threw to Tulowitzki doubling off Rodriguez at second base. Without that play, the game may have taken a turn in which the Rockies might not have recovered from.

Frankly, Jimenez looked horrible through the first four innings. He worked nearly every batter to a three ball count. He was missing his spots by feet rather than inches, and the velocity was closer to 90 on the fastball than it was to 96. Jimenez's delivery is unorthodox by any definition, and he tends to fly open on the front side more than most pitchers do, but on Friday night, he was swinging much further open than he ever has in the past.

Despite poor mechanics and sketchy control, Jimenez was still able to limit the Yankees to just four hits through seven gritty innings. He struck out seven and walked four. Mechanics aside, the right-hander got the job done when it mattered most, and found his groove after giving up the Yankees second run in the third inning.

The Rockies win, if nothing else, should be enough to make them feel that they are not an inferior team to the almighty New York Yankees. They mystic of playing at Yankee Stadium should subside and the club should be able to play the game the way that they know how to.

Winning the first game was a huge step in the right direction for this Rockies team. A series win might be what it takes to propel them into a hot streak that puts them back on top of the National League West.

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