Sunday, July 3, 2011

Colorado Rockies newest member continues to lift team

The Colorado Rockies traded for a guy named Mark Ellis on Thursday.

However, don't look at the name and you would think they got a reincarnated Mickey Mantle.

In the six-run second inning that propelled the Rockies to a win, the Royals decided to intentionally walk Carlos Gonzalez in order to get to Ellis. A move that would spell their doom. With Gonzalez on first, the bases were loaded, and Ellis promptly delivered a sharply hit double, plating two runs and giving the Rockies a comfortable enough lead with Triple-A call up Greg Reynolds on the mound.

Ellis didn't stop in the second inning, he went on to record two more doubles, leaving him with a .600 batting average in his first two National League games.

The nine-year veteran may be getting a lift from playing on a team that doesn't share a stadium with a football team, and draws more than 10,000 fans per night.

That lift may be just what the Rockies clubhouse needs at this point. A veteran presence who can mix things up a little bit in a locker room full of guys who continue doing the same things day-in and day-out. It might just be possible to change some guys approaches with a new veteran who hasn't been around the same clubhouse culture that many of the veteran Rockies have been around for so long.

Make no mistake, acquiring Mark Ellis is not the move that is going to bring a World Series back to Colorado. The issues on the club go way beyond the two-hole hitter. The truth is, the biggest issues with the Rockies can be found 60 miles south playing for their Triple-A ball club. Had Dexter Fowler and Ian Stewart taken the next steps in their careers, the conversation might be about how much the Rockies can pad their NL West lead before the All-Star break.

While Ellis isn't going to be the blockbuster trade that many Rockies fans think the club needs to make to contend, he can make a difference. He can be a guy who can change the staleness that seems to have grabbed hold of a Rockies team that hasn't shown much life over the past two months. His presence could give the club enough of a boost both at home and on the road to push them back into contention.

As far as the game on Saturday, it never had a comfortable feel for the Rockies. Reynolds has done a good job for the club in the time that he has been on the big league roster, however his stuff was flat on Saturday. He wasn't getting much bit on his sliders and his fastball didn't have much movement. He paid the price for it in the third inning when Wilson Betemit hit a three-run homer to left field to bring the Royals within three.

Despite Reynolds being somewhat shaky, he was good enough to get the job done. With a big lead, the worst thing a pitcher can do is walk batters, and Reynolds was good about that, giving up only one walk in his five innings of work.

Troy Tulowitzki proved that he doesn't like to hit one home run every few days. When he starts hitting them, they come in bunches. His sixth inning solo shot gave the Rockies a four run lead, enough to take a breath and not worry too much about blowing a huge lead. On Sunday Tulowitzki finds out if his first half was good enough for him to start his first All-Star game. There is little question that he will be on the squad, regardless of whether he is voted in by the fans or not.

The Rockies go for the sweep on Sunday, something they have had the opportunity to do several times in the last few weeks, but haven't capitalized on. This should be their best chance, as Jason Hammel takes on Luke Hochevar. The Colorado native was the first overall pick in 2006 draft, but hasn't lived up to the hype that agent Scott Boras bestowed on him. He is currently 5-8 with a 4.96 ERA.

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