Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Colorado Rockies show why fans should be excited about them in win

Dexter Fowler
Can the Colorado Rockies have a mulligan for Monday's home opener?

After perhaps the most disappointing regular season game in franchise history on Monday, the Rockies bounced back and showed why fans should be excited to see them play in 2012.

The team, without hitting a home run, combined for 22 hits and 17 runs to even the series with the Giants at one game apiece.

The offense looked like they had a point to prove. With former National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on the mound, it easily could have been a repeat of the misery that was Monday. However, the Rockies capitalized on what looked like an off-night for Lincecum.

The story of the Rockies was not their dominance of the Giants ace, however. The story comes after the Giants figured out Jeremy Guthrie and returned from a 6-0 deficit to lead the game 7-6 going into the bottom of the 4th inning.

A similar game in 2011 would have seen the offense score all of those runs, then sit back and relax. When the starter let the opposition back into the game, it was as if the wind was taken out of the team's sails. Bad at-bats, full of Rockies players trying to do too much and taking bad swings seemed commonplace in a similar game in 2011.

It was the first opportunity to see what the intangible differences are that Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies front office was looking for when they decided it was time to change the culture in the clubhouse.

The Rockies not only didn't seem pressured when the Giants stormed back, they almost seemed challenged. Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez roped back-to-back singles and the run scoring was on again. The Rockies put up three runs in the frame, then came back and put up a 7-spot in the next inning to finish off the win.

That type of mentality simply would not have happened in 2011. The team would have folded and hoped for better luck the next day. In the clubhouse after the game they would have told the media that it was disappointing to lose a game in which they chased an ace out of the game before he had thrown three innings.

The Rockies also got to see some maturity from their star player, Troy Tulowitzki. In his first three at-bats, he came up in the same situation, less than two outs and a runner on third. In his first chance, Tulo got two strikes on him. Instead of swinging harder, or looking to drive a pitch, the shortstop did what he has struggled with in his career. On an offspeed pitch, down in the zone, he put the bat on the ball and scored the run.

Later, Tulo once again didn't try to do too much. He put the bat on the ball and hit a flare to center field that scored the run and kept the inning going. Those types of at-bats are huge for a player with that kind of talent. If Tulowitzki can make a habit of taking good at-bats, he could enhance his perennial MVP candidacy by quite a bit.

Another encouraging sign for the Rockies, one that allows many of the hopeful fans to breath a sigh of relief, came from Dexter Fowler.

The center fielder worked hard all offseason long to get over the hump that has seen him go back to the minor leagues in the past two seasons. His early struggles haven't made anyone feel like he turned the corner. On Wednesday night he went 3-for-5 with two doubles. His at-bats looked much better. He seemed to have much more confidence at the plate.

If Fowler can play to his potential, the Rockies lineup will be as potent as any in the league.

Overall, the night was very good for the team. It was something that they needed to erase the memories of a very embarrassing home opener.

The Rockies have a chance in 2012. It may be a small chance, but if the Rockies play team baseball and play with the same passion that they played with on Wednesday against an ace, they will be in it at the end.

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