Friday, June 1, 2012

Colorado Rockies offense continues to roll as streak extends to five games

CarGo has ignited the entire offense.
Pitching wins championships, but good offense sure is fun to watch.

Just when the last passionate fan had turned their eyes towards 2013, the Colorado Rockies have given reason for hope.

On Friday night at Coors Field, the Rockies dismantled the National League West leading Los Angeles Dodgers 13-3. The win was the team's fifth in a row and also the fifth game in a row in which the offense has scored at least seven runs.

What a difference a week makes. Last Friday night, radio shows were talking about the "road to 100," a slogan given to the team they thought was on the path to a historic number of losses. Suddenly, this Rockies team looks nothing like a team that will lose anywhere close to 100 games.

It almost seems as if it set in to the Rockies hitters that they are going to have to go out and score a ton of runs every night if they have a chance to win. Once they accepted that fact, they have gone out there and done it.

Does this streak mean the Rockies are suddenly back in the race? Well, let's not jump to conclusions. This team still has significant issues. The starting pitching is nowhere near as good as they were expected to be, and they were expected to be very bad.

If the Rockies want to climb back into the race, they are going to have to watch some of their young pitching mature right before their eyes. As impressive as the offensive onslaught has been, the reality of this game is that there is no way any team could sustain this type of production.

However, what this run shows fans is that the talent that Dan O'Dowd put on the field in 2012 is not as bad as it looked two weeks ago. Fans are starting to see just how potent this team can be when the lineup gets in sync.

The reality is, this team relies on Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton to be productive and carry the team. When one of them gets hot, it seems to spark the whole lineup. Ever since Gonzalez has started his run, this team has been on fire offensively. It makes sense that it would happen that way because when one guy is as hot as Gonzalez is, it changes the way a pitcher and an opposing manager approaches the entire lineup. That changes the game.

When the core of this team starts to heat up, it makes hitting easier for guys like Dexter Fowler and Wilin Rosario. They are hitting with guys on base more often and they start seeing more fastballs. It makes everyone better when the core of the lineup gets hot. At this point, Gonzalez is on fire at the plate, making things that much easier for the entire team.

If, somehow, someway, this team can get some solid starting pitching, they could be one of the better teams in the National League. That is a bold statement, but take a look at the lineup and the lineups around the league. With firepower like the Rockies have, there is no reason that they can't compete with any team in the league with only decent starting pitching.

The Rockies, in order to contend in 2012, were depending on young players to step up and play above their service time. Wilin Rosario is doing his part. One word to describe Rosario in the early going would be "raw." All of the physical skills are there, but they were going to take some refining before he got to the point where he is able to be a solid, everyday catcher.

Rosario was one of those guys who would hit a fastball a mile, but wave through a slider. The common comments from fans was that if only he could figure out how to hit the breaking ball, he might just be the guy the Rockies have been looking for from a catcher for so long.

Well, on Friday night, Rosario's home run came on a curveball. He has consistently been hitting the off-speed pitches much better than he was in the past. That type of maturity is what the Rockies were counting on in order to compete.

Dexter Fowler had another great night. He went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. His emergence is another positive sign that some of the guys the Rockies were depending on are turning the corner. Whether it is a fluke or not remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that this run is coming at the right time for the Rockies. If they had continued losing even for one more week, all hope would have been lost in 2012.

At some point, the Rockies are going to need a great start from their pitchers. Friday night's performance by Josh Outman, in the rotation in place of Jamie Moyer, took a step towards providing confidence that those good starts could happen at some point. He was limited to 55 pitches because he wasn't stretched out, but his 3-1/3 inning of scoreless baseball were impressive. He struck out five and walked only one.

If the Rockies can get one or two dependable starters, it could change the course of their season.

For now, they will look to the offense to slug their way to victory. Pitching wins championships, but watching this team slug like there is no humidor sure is fun.

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