|Jon Garland made an impressive Colorado Rockies debut.|
The team is officially done with the first time through their starting rotation. Who would have guessed that the Rockies would be 4-1? The interesting thing is that none of the Rockies wins have featured the offense climbing back into it. Every win has come, in large part, because of a strong effort from the starting pitcher.
On Saturday night it was newcomer Jon Garland's turn. If Garland was even slightly intimidated by pitching at Coors Field, he didn't show it. The former All-Star, making his first start since June 1st of 2011, pitched six strong innings. He gave up two earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out two.
However, what was impressive about what Garland was the fashion in which he accomplished his strong outing. The righty recorded 11 outs via the ground ball, and only one out in the air. In his first start in a Rockies uniform, he showed that he knows the exact formula for success at Coors Field.
The best sign from Garland came in the 4th inning. The inning started with a Carlos Quentin led off with a double, then Yonder Alonso dumped a single that got down in front of Carlos Gonzalez. With two on, Garland proceeded to walk Jedd Gyorko on four pitches. Suddenly, the Rockies, who held a 1-0 lead, looked like they could be in trouble. Instead of collapsing, as seemed to be the case more often than not in 2012, the Rockies starting pitcher beared down. He got a fielder's choice from Alexi Amarista, then got Cameron Maybin to ground into a double play to limit the damage to just one run.
The mark of a saavy veteran is a pitcher who can find himself in trouble, but instead of getting flustered and making a bad thing worse, they find a way to limit the damage and get important outs. That is just what Garland did on Saturday night. If the Rockies can get an effort like Garland gave them on Saturday every fifth day, they will be a far better team than most experts predicted.
One start is not enough to make a solid judgement about Garland, but the veteran might be exactly the pitcher that the Rockies needed to stabilize this starting rotation.
The biggest complaint from Rockies fans in the offseason was that the Rockies didn't do enough--or anything--to make their historically bad rotation better. Ironically enough, the club may have picked up the player that would have the biggest impact on the 2013 season less than one week before Opening Day.
The Rockies start is something that fans should enjoy. This is a team that was so bad in 2012, and bad in embarrassing ways, that the weren't even fun to watch as the season continued to spiral out of control. Maybe they got the losing out of their system. Maybe the fact that the pitch count and the piggyback system is done has given this team enough freedom to go out and play the game the way they know how. Maybe it is just a five game stretch that doesn't really mean anything. Whatever it is, it is a welcomed change from what 2012 brought.
Everyone knows that this Rockies team will hit. Everyone knows that if the two superstars don't hit well on a given day, there is a plethora of other hitters who can play the part of hero. On Saturday night, that was Michael Cuddyer. The right fielder went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. His 7th inning bullet to right field looked like it would hit the wall, but was just high enough to get out of the park.
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