Sunday, June 3, 2012

Alex White impressive as Colorado Rockies take series from Dodgers

Alex White dominated the Dodgers on Sunday.
Sunday's are supposed to be a day where the fans go out to the ballpark, enjoy the weather and the scenery.

Most of them, however, have learned not to expect a win on the Sabbath. These Rockies seem to find ways to lose games on Sunday. Alex White apparently didn't get the memo as he pitched the best outing of his young career on Sunday.

The right-hander, part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, went 6-2/3 innings, giving up two runs on just two hits. His lone mistake came in the 7th inning when he walked James Loney with one out, then gave up a shot down the left field line to A.J. Ellis.

White walked five batters, two of which may have come after fatigue had set in during the 7th inning. Beyond those five walks, there was very little for anyone to complain about. White was brilliant. It was exactly what the Rockies are in desperate need of from their starting pitchers.

The Rockies were leaning on young pitching heading into the season. Dan O'Dowd made no excuses that the team was crossing their fingers that a couple of their young starters would pitch above their experience level. He all but said that the two guys he was really banking on were Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz.

Those two pitchers are either in Colorado Springs working on mechanics (Pomeranz) or nursing an injury that should have been discussed back in spring training, but was neglected (Chacin).

With both Pomeranz and Chacin not only taking the next step forward, but rather taking a step backwards, the Rockies have been hurting for starting pitching.

The struggles from the starters are the reason the Rockies find themselves in the position that they are in. The month of May was spent digging such a big hole that the Rockies may as well have brought shovels to the plate with them rather than bats. However, performances like White gave the Rockies on Sunday give reason for hope.

Is there another team in the league that can fall to 12 games out of the race and their fans still have hope? This Rockies franchise has made a habit of playing the underdog role. Just when everyone thinks they are dead, they act like their season began and start playing serious baseball.

Left for dead, the Rockies completed a seven-game home stand with a 6-1 record, including winning a series against the division-leading Dodgers.

The reason that there is hope is because as much as the rotation has struggled, the talent is there. The young pitchers that have struggled aren't pitchers who don't have talent, they are just very green. They are still getting their feet wet at the big league level. Even a guy who seems like he has been around for a long time like Juan Nicasio has made just 24 starts at the big league level.

White was a first round draft choice. There is a reason for that. The talent would suggest that he will eventually be a good big league pitcher. It simply is a matter of gaining the needed experience to mature into that pitcher. When will that happen? The Rockies are hoping that Sunday was the beginning of that maturation process.

If White, Nicasio (when he comes off the disabled list) and Pomeranz can take a couple of steps forward, and the offense continues to hit at a high level, which they are very capable of, this Rockies team just might not be dead in the water. It will be extremely difficult for them to crawl back into the race, but with two wild card teams this season, they may find themselves battling well into the summer.

Who would have thought that one week ago?

The Rockies next test comes when they leave Coors Field to go on a quick three-game trip to Arizona. If they can find a way to win away from Denver, they may be hard to discount.

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