|Jeff Francis showed that you can pitch at Coors Field.|
On Friday night, Jeff Francis showed Dan O'Dowd what the formula for winning at Coors Field is. The lefty went six shutout innings. He gave up only three hits. He walked one and struck out one. Francis threw 82 pitches.
Francis pitched well enough to give the Rockies a chance to break the game open with the bats. After finishing the 6th inning, the offense ensured that the Canadian would pick up a victory by putting up four runs in the bottom half of the inning.
For good measure, the offense continued to pour on the runs, scoring four more in the 8th inning behind a long home run off the bat of Wilin Rosario deep into left field. Michael Cuddyer also added a home run and a double on the night to help the Rockies score 10 total runs.
Once again, the Rockies offense showed how good this team could be if the starting pitching was simply average. Top to bottom, including the bench, this Rockies offensive attack is as good as anyone's in the league. They can hit the ball to all parts of the ballpark. They hit home runs, doubles, triples and they hit them in bunches.
Originally brought in for depth, Tyler Colvin adds to the argument with his hitting abilities. He is forcing his way into the everyday lineup, adding another triple, his fifth on the year, to show just how deep this team is.
If O'Dowd had known just how good Colvin would be, he may have opted to save the $10 million per year that the team used to sign Cuddyer.
For Rockies fans, watching this offense put up big numbers is fun. However, it has to be bittersweet. As bad as this Rockies team has been on the field, there simply is only one place where the club has failed. The starting pitchers have been so bad that they have been solely responsible for the failures of this club. Between the starting pitching, and the poor defense, which might also be blamed on the starting pitching failing to keep the fielders alert and ready, the Rockies have become one of the worst teams in baseball.
Part of the reason the Rockies starting pitching remains so poor is because O'Dowd insists that it is impossible to pitch at Coors Field. He continues to insist that the park is playing differently in 2012 rather than to acknowledge the fact that the Rockies offense is better than it was and the pitching is far worse as well.
It is interesting that Francis seems to be the guy to be the least intimidated by the park. Maybe he has confidence that pitching there isn't impossible because he has the formula. He won 17 games in 2007 and has had success there before.
However, ever since Francis departed, O'Dowd and the Rockies have made Coors Field such a focal point, and have talked about it so much that it wouldn't be a shock if they had forced the park into the heads of the young pitchers, and recently acquired pitchers.
If someone in charge continues to talk about something being difficult, nearly impossible to do, at some point it is hard not to believe it. That might be the case for some of the struggling starters like Christian Friedrich, Alex White and Jeremy Guthrie.
Maybe it is time for the Rockies to scrap trying to think outside the box with their pitchers and go back to the basics. Pitchers that command their pitches and stay low in the zone avoid all of the issues that come with the ball flying out of the park. Once the ball gets up in the zone, pitchers get shelled. Instead of trying crazy theories that are unconventional, the Rockies need to go back to what helped them win in '07 and 2009.
Even a couple of decent pitchers may have saved this season for the Rockies. Instead, they are fighting to stay below 100 loses for the first time in their 20-year history.
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