Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cold can't stop the Colorado Rockies in sweep of Mets

Is it time to start believing in the 2013 Colorado Rockies?
Call them gritty, call them resilient, call them relentless, call them anything in that you want, but the time has arrived to quit calling them a bad team.

On April 16th, late into the night, the Colorado Rockies became just the third team in all of Major League Baseball to record their 10th win in the 2013 season.

The Rockies pulled out a big win in the first game of the doubleheader. They overcame two home runs by David Wright, a mediocre start from Juan Nicasio, and temperatures more fitting for a Broncos game than for the boys of summer.

Game two was even colder, the start from Jeff Francis was even less dominating, and the deficit the team had to overcome was even greater. However, the Rockies didn't shrink in the weather, they ignored the cold and meticulously whittled away at the Met's lead and made it happen.

Game one will be forgotten about with the heroics in game two, but Eric Young, Jr. broke out with three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored, leading off in place of the banged up Dexter Fowler. Carlos Gonzalez, ignoring the freezing weather, launched a 450 foot home run to the second deck in right-center field, to go along with his 1st inning triple. Todd Helton came through in the bottom of the 5th inning, lining a base hit to left-center with the bases loaded to score two runs and put the Rockies in the lead.

The Rockies got two scoreless innings from Edgmer Escalona, another perfect inning from Wilton Lopez, and a perfect frame from closer Rafael Betancourt to nail down the victory.

Game two began by looking like the Rockies had used all of their good fortune in game one. They were sloppy, committing three errors before the 5th inning. The defense looked like the 2012 Rockies. The Mets scored five runs in the top of the 5th inning, chasing Francis. The defense was on the field for well over 30 straight minutes as the temperatures dropped even further and the wind picked up.

The Root Sports cameras painted a great picture. They panned from one Rockies defender to the next. They looked miserable. They looked like they wanted to be somewhere else. They looked defeated. After a big win in the first game and temperatures like they were, who could blame them?

Well, those watching on TV must have been fooled, because the Rockies were anything but defeated. They headed back to the dugout and got back four of the five runs that they had lost in the top half of the inning. Yorvit Torrealba, who committed two of the three Rockies errors, lined a double to left-center to score two runs and get things going.

In the end, Jordan Pacheco got the job done in the 10th inning with a hard single to right-center field. The win sealed something that has been difficult to say because it is still so early in the season.

It may be early, but it is time to make a conclusion. This Rockies team might not be a World Series contender, but they are a different team than they were in 2012. The Rockies team of a year ago would have packed it in after David Wright's first home run in game one. They would have played cold, and they would have let the weather get to them.

Whether it is management, coaching, clubhouse leadership, or any other factor, the reality is, this Rockies team is different than a year ago. Imagine the 2012 Rockies in a similar situation. Imagine them down by six runs in the 5th inning of a doubleheader in which they had won the first game and temperatures dropping into the 20's. No one who watched the 2012 Rockies would suggest that the Rockies would even pretend to come back.

The experts like ESPN's Keith Law, who predicted that the Rockies would lose 109 games, are desperately hoping for injuries to get in the way of Colorado's success. If this team stays healthy, they could finish the 2013 season around the .500 mark. If everything goes perfectly, this Rockies team could end up the National League's version of the 2012 Oakland Athletics.

The team on the field was impressive, but the fans did a phenomenal job of representing what Colorado fans are all about. This is a team that has zero expectations. This is a team that lost 98 games a year ago and did little in the offseason to improve themselves. In 20 degree weather, with wind, Rockies fans did a great job of showing up and not only that, staying until the end of a 10-inning marathon.

The Rockies will attempt to take the third of four games in the series on Wednesday night, but might be once again held back by the weather. More rain and snow is expected, but if the Rockies field crew was able to get the field ready on Tuesday, the game might just get in.

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