Thursday, August 4, 2011

Colorado Rockies snap losing streak behind Rogers

Esmil Rogers has a point to prove.

The right-hander turns 26 in a couple of weeks and realizes that with every year his window of opportunity slowly closes. His chance to prove himself in the rotation comes with the departure of Ubaldo Jimenez.

Ironically, the Ubaldo Jimenez's move to Cleveland gives Rogers his chance, but also comes as his biggest threat, as the Rockies bring back two Indian prospects who they think are going to be fixtures in the club's rotation for the next several years.

Basically what that means is that Rogers has all of one month to prove that he should stick around with the Rockies. If that is the case, the righty has done everything in his control to force the Rockies to have a difficult decision on their hands.

On Thursday night at Coors Field, a place where Rogers has been anything but good, he pitched like he belongs in the big leagues.

Although a high pitch count forced him our of the game after 5-2/3 innings, he had done everything the Rockies could possibly have asked of him. After giving up a first inning run, Rogers settled in, holding off the Nationals long enough for the offense to put up enough runs to make Rogers a winner.

Rogers pitch count finished at 112, but what was very encouraging for Rockies fans was the number 77. That is how many strikes Rogers had thrown when he came out of the game. One thing a young pitcher without a ton of experience in the big leagues tends to struggle with is throwing strikes. When they do throw strikes, they are afraid to throw inside. On Thursday, Rogers pounded the strike zone and continuously worked the ball on the inner half of the plate. With a 95-mph fastball with movement, Rogers certainly will get a chance to prove himself as a Rockie.

With Rogers pitching well, it gave the Rockies a chance to put a few runs on the board. With a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, Troy Tulowitzki blasted his 21st home run of the season, giving the Rockies bullpen some breathing room. They then took advantage of former Rockies farmhand Ryan Mattheus, who gave up three insurance runs in the eighth inning while walking three Rockies and hitting another.

It is tough to be excited about the Colorado Rockies at this point. The season is a huge disappointment, there is no way around that fact. However, performances from Rogers, and the anticipated arrival of players like Wilin Rosario give the Rockies and their fans some reasons to be excited about the remaining string of games. Unfortunately, that is the good news at this point.

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