|Jeff Francis did enough to keep the Rockies in the game.|
The team ended an eight game losing streak on Friday night in Detroit, amazingly scoring eight runs in the 10th inning to make a dramatic game look like a blowout, winning 12-4.
The big hit came from Wilin Rosario. With one out in the 10th and the bases loaded, Rosario found himself in an 0-2 count. The Tigers, with closer Jose Valverde on the mound, looked like they were going to get out of a bases loaded, no out jam. Instead, Rosario bounded a ball that went just over the head of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, scoring two runs for the Rockies.
From there the route was on. Carlos Gonzalez hit an absolute laser into the right-center field seats, followed by a Michael Cuddyer blast, giving the Rockies at total of eight runs in the frame and a secure victory for the first time in nine games.
Lost in the big 10th inning will be the fact that Jeff Francis made a very good start in his second time out with the Rockies in 2012. The start may not look like a fantastic start by normal standards, but considering what this Rockies team has trotted out to the mound in 2012, Friday night's performance looked like a no-hitter.
Francis pitched 5-1/3 innings. He gave up four runs, three of which came in the 3rd inning, and the final coming in the 6th after he had departed.
Four runs in 5-1/3 innings doesn't look great. However, it was a good enough outing to keep the offense in the game. It gave the team a chance to be in the game in the late innings. With the offense that the Rockies possess, they are going to win many games in which they are close in the late innings. The starting pitcher simply has to give them a chance.
The crazy thing about these Rockies, the same team that has the third worst record in baseball, is that they could be very good.
The lineup that they possess, with a bench that can make things happen in the late innings and a bullpen that is full of solid contributors, make the Rockies a team that could have contended. They just needed the starting pitchers to be decent.
With starting pitching that at least gave the Rockies a chance to be in the game, this team could have been contending for the top spot in the National League West. It may sound crazy, but how many times has the starting pitcher simply pitched the Rockies out of games throughout the early part of the season?
The Rockies have blown leads of three or more eight times in 2012. It feels like 15. When Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the Rockies, four first inning runs seems like a good start, but by no means feels like the beginning of a blowout.
This is exactly what the Rockies believers were hoping for when the season commenced. Those who looked at the team through purple colored glasses envisioned Jhoulys Chacin taking the next step and turning into a dominant Major League pitcher. They also saw Drew Pomeranz look like a guy who had the capability of winning 10 games in his rookie season.
Had that happened, even with just those two guys taking the next step forward, the 2012 season would not be filled with outcries from the fans to fire Dan O'Dowd, Jim Tracy, Bob Apodaca and anyone else who could be blamed for the failures of a lost season.
It is the same reason why the failures of this Rockies team have been so difficult for fans to accept. If the team had no talent, if they were supposed to be bad and were waiting for a crop of young players to hit the big leagues sometime in the next few years, it wouldn't be hard to handle. Instead, a team with so much talent on the offensive side that continues to lose day-in and day-out, despite scoring enough runs to win frustrates fans.
The Rockies have dug themselves a hole that is going to be far too deep for them to climb out of. However, if they can get starting pitching like they got on Friday night, starting pitching that really isn't that good, but good enough to give the team a chance, they will get back to respectability. The question remains, does this team possess the ability to even pitch at a mediocre level? Can they put together a few good starts in a row?
It should be fun to watch the Tigers offensive display on Saturday as Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and company get to feast on the batting practice pitching that is Jeremy Guthrie. If the Rockies want to win on Saturday, the offense better have a few more big innings in them.
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