This is what the optimists envisioned when they believed the Colorado Rockies could contend.
The Rockies gave their fans some good memories on an eventful Memorial Day doubleheader sweep of the Houston Astros at Coors Field.
The night game was capped off by a resurgent Dexter Fowler lacing a triple down the right field line, scoring Michael Cuddyer all the way from first base in the 10th inning to break a six-all tie. The triple completed a perfect night for the center fielder. Fowler went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, a lead-off home run, a triple, and a bunt hit that resulted in a two-base error, leaving Fowler on third base.
However, as encouraging as the overall performance for Fowler was, the most impressive at-bat from the switch hitter came in the 4th inning with the bases loaded and two outs. It was the at-bat in which Fowler did the least, yet showed reason for optimism for his development.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Fowler had two strikes and was looking for a base hit to keep the inning alive. Instead of trying to do too much, Fowler put the pressure back on Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Instead of swinging for the base hit, Fowler forced Lyles to throw strikes. He couldn't, and suddenly the center fielder was headed to first base with a bases-loaded walk.
Fowler kept the inning alive, and Marco Scutaro then stepped to the plate and laced a double to the right-center gap, scoring all three base runners and giving the Rockies a four-run inning.
It was an at-bat like Fowler took that has been missing from a hideous May. Instead of allowing the game to play itself out and letting teammates be the hero, the Rockies have all too often forced the issue at the plate. They have tried to do too much and instead of working a walk, they swung at pitches outside of the strike zone and helped the pitcher out.
In game one, the hero was Jordan Pacheco. In the 8th inning, Pacheco hit a flare into center field that fell just in front of Jordan Schafer, scoring two runs and giving the Rockies a chance to close the game out with Rafael Betancourt on the mound. The winning hit wasn't the first contribution Pacheco made at the plate.
After Rockies starter Juan Nicasio gave up two runs in the 1st inning, the offense came out in the bottom half of the inning and set the pace for scoring right off the bat. Pacheco helped get the scoring going, hitting a triple that one-hopped the wall, scoring Fowler and quickly starting a rally that would put five runs on the board.
Pacheco and Fowler shared a big day. It was a day that optimistic Rockies fans thought that they would see more often in 2012.
On paper, this Rockies team has promise. The lineup is as good as any in the National League. With as good of a one-two punch as it gets in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have a good core. However, throw in players with career numbers like Todd Helton and Cuddyer boast, coupled with emerging bats like Wilin Rosario and Pacheco, and the hope of a good season from Fowler and the Rockies looked like the would have a chance to win every game in which they played, regardless of what the starting pitcher did on the mound.
Of course, the true issue that faces the Rockies is their lack of starting pitching. They simply must find a way to be better. This team was depending heavily on Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz to take the next steps forward. Neither one of them has, and Chacin has taken a step of two back.
With the offense getting on a roll, it may be a good chance to eliminate the need for a starting pitcher to really go out and dominate and give the team a chance to climb back to respectability. The talent is there. The starting pitching is the question mark, and always has been, but this team is more talented than it has been playing.
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