Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CarGo makes the Braves pay in walk-off Rockies win

Apparently Fredi Gonazalez hasn't heard about a guy who plays for the Colorado Rockies who shares his last name.

With Dexter Fowler on second base and Ty Wigginton coming to the plate with two outs, the Braves manager elected to walk Wigginton in order to face Carlos Gonzalez. The thought was the age-old baseball theory that a right-handed batter hits a left-handed pitcher better than a a same-side matchup.

That theory makes some sense when all things are equal. However, there are very few managers in baseball who would take a CarGo matchup over a Wigginton matchup, regardless of the man on the mound. The move simply didn't make sense.

The move made no sense, and if there was any doubt about it, Gonzalez removed it when he laced the first pitch into right field to plate Fowler, giving the Rockies their second walk-off win of the season.

It may be a day late and a buck short for these Rockies, but progress is still progress. Seeing them find a way to win is encouraging. Seeing them not quit is a good thing, regardless of whether they are 9-1/2 games out of the race or not.

The Rockies would have needed more than just one run to win the game in the 9th inning had Todd Helton not continued looking like the 27-year old version of himself. In the 1st inning, the first baseman continued his career assault on Tim Hudson. He connected for his 11th home run of the season, giving the Rockies an early 2-0 lead.

Helton and Gonzalez stole the thunder from a kid who is showing how good he can be. Against a very good Braves lineup, rookie Juan Nicasio put a poor start in Atlanta behind him. He pitched seven incredible innings, giving up just one run on five hits. He walked only one and struck out four.

In a season full of disappointments, Nicasio is giving the Rockies a glimpse into a positive future. Despite an offense that hasn't played well, a starting rotation that has failed, and a bullpen that has been largely unreliable, Nicasio gives the club hope. Consider a rotation that includes a corrected Ubaldo Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin, and Nicasio anchoring down the first three spots. With that, the Rockies have an excellent opportunity to be excited about the future.

The Rockies go for the series victory and a winning homestand on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field. The Rockies face a tall order, trying to defeat Tommy Hansen. The home team sends Chacin to the mound, which should present a good pitching matchup.

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