Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Colorado Rockies win behind strong Hammel performance, late rally

It's been ugly in 2011 at Coors Field. There is no way around that.

However, as the Colorado Rockies play out the final string of their season, there is still quite a bit to be watched. On a day when prospects Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco made their Major League debuts, the Colorado Rockies rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat the first place Diamondbacks.

The offense rallied to win the game, but they wouldn't have been in it if it wasn't for Jason Hammel.

Hammel, relegated to the bullpen due to ineffectiveness, was called upon to start with Jhoulys Chacin being pushed back to Friday. It may have been Hammel's last chance to prove to the Rockies that he can be an effective starter in the big leagues.

The right-hander dominated the Diamondbacks. He delivered seven innings, giving up only one earned run on six scattered hits. He struck out six and walked only one. The fastball command was back for Hammel. He pitched with confidence and attacked the strike zone.

There is no shortage of people looking to ship Hammel out of town. However, those people are forgetting what Hammel has done in the past. This is a guy who set a Rockies record for consecutive scoreless innings in 2010. He went 29-1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run in June of that season. This is a guy who can pitch at the big league level. To have someone of that ilk in the back of the rotation is a very good thing. He should not be given up on so quickly.

In addition to Hammel's performance were two very notable performances. First, Jordan Pacheco, in his Major League debut, showed no signs of butterflies, making a slick play at third base, and then roping his first base hit an inning later. He went 2-for-4, collecting two RBIs, one of which tied the game in the fifth inning.

Everyone says that Pacheco won't be a major contributor at the big league level. They say that he will be a utility-type of guy. All too often, players are pigeon-holed into a role. The key is to let players decide their own fate. Confidence is 90 percent of the battle, and Pacheco seems to have it.

The final point is the platoon outfielder, Seth Smith. The lefty once again proved that his name should be in the lineup on a daily basis. All he does is get hits, and seemingly lately, all he does is get extra base hits. It's time for Jim Tracy to put down the notebook that tells him Smith can't hit lefties and let him go out there and prove the book wrong.

The reality for the Smith is that his lefty-against-lefty splits for his career are misleading. Keep in mind that for the better part of three seasons, Smith was a late-game pinch hitter. When he came into the game, the opposing manager would often go to his bullpen and get the tough side-arming lefty, or the lefty who fires 96 MPH. Give the guy a chance to start everyday against lefties, and just like the rest of his game, Smith will show improvement.

A hit off of a side-arming lefty on Tuesday should be the first sign, but two triples earlier in the game against a starting pitcher that no one could hit is an even bigger sign that Smith can be successful.

The way the final 18 games of the season play out should be interesting for Rockies fans.

1 comment:

  1. I bet those black uniforms are a blast to play in during the day, lol.
    Rockies are a completely different team than what they showed last year. Was also expecting bigger numbers out of Carlos Gonzalez this year as well.