Thursday, April 18, 2013

Colorado Rockies continue to defy the critics

Jon Garland has been a great pickup so far for the Rockies.
Six. That number is significant for the Colorado Rockies.

On Thursday, in 28 degree weather, the Rockies won their sixth straight game. In 2012, a year ago, the Rockies accomplished that feat exactly zero times. They won five straight, but never six.

On April 18th, the Rockies also reached another milestone. They achieved their 11th win of the season, putting them at exactly one-sixth of their overall win total in 2012. To say that the Rockies have started off hot would be a huge understatement.

The Rockies lineup did it again on Thursday, bashing out 17 hits, three solo home runs, and a total of 11 runs to notch the victory, giving the club a sweep, even if the four game series won't technically conclude until sometime later in the summer, when the temperatures are much more conducive for baseball.

Josh Rutledge, struggling out of the gate, hit a high fly ball that had barely enough to get over the fence, giving the Rockies a 2-1 lead in the 4th inning. Dexter Fowler, cooling off from his hot start, launched his seventh homer of the year, into the snow piles in the bullpen. Troy Tulowitzki added a no-doubter in the 8th inning to pour salt on the wound of the Mets.

Wilin Rosario, in front of many of his family members who made the trip from the Dominican Republic, had a day to remember. He only went 1-for-5, but his one hit was gigantic. With two outs in the 7th inning and the Rockies on the verge of letting a big opportunity slip by, Rosario took a 2-2 slider to the opposite field, scoring two runs, which led to a six run inning, burying the Mets.

Todd Helton nearly homered immediately following Rosario's hit, one foot to the left, or one foot higher and the ball would have left the yard. Instead, it hit the very top corner of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. Instead of homering, Helton moved into 20th all-time in the doubles category.

Carlos Gonzalez continued doing what he does best, making the ball hurt. He went 3-for-5 with a double an RBI and two runs scored. The ball simply sounds different coming off of his bat than any other player.

Clearly, the Rockies got offensive contributions from plenty of people. Name after name after name can continue to be talked about in regards to the Rockies success. However, the score was not indicative of how much the Rockies needed the outing they got from newcomer Jon Garland.

If the Rockies make any noise in 2013, if they continue at anywhere near the pace they have started April with, Garland will be a big reason why. After missing all of 2012 with a shoulder injury, the big right-hander has shown that he knows how to pitch. He is a sinkerball pitcher, but was throwing a steady diet of curveballs and sliders to baffled Mets hitters on Thursday.

If Coors Field is a tough place to pitch, nobody told Garland. If there is a recipe for successful pitching at Coors, it is to throw as few pitches as possible and allow the defense to do it's job. That is exactly what Garland did on Thursday. He gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. He struck out four and didn't walk a single Mets batter. In seven innings of work, Garland threw just 83 pitches.

What Garland proves is that the key to success at Coors Field isn't some magical formula. It isn't about a pitch count or how many times a lineup has seen a pitcher. The key to success is to know how to be a pitcher, not just a thrower. Garland finesses his way through a lineup. He has a plan for every pitch and executes it. He throws strikes and allows the defense to help him.

The Rockies continue to surprise most baseball people. They were supposed to be really bad. Instead, they are not bad, they aren't even mediocre. Through the first two-and-a-half weeks, they are one of the best teams in baseball.

Of course it is early. There is inevitably people out there who will remind the Rockies fans that this season is very young. Point to the calendar and realize that it is still capable of being 28 degrees and there is no mistaking that it is early. For Rockies fans, however, it doesn't matter how early it is. This team is playing well, they are winning games and they are exciting to watch. Those three things didn't happen in 2012.

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  1. The Road to 100?

  2. Mr Martin,
    You have a great talent in writing! Why hasn't a major publisher snag you to write sports for them?

  3. Next up is the Diamondbacks. Which is just right on the other side of the Rockies from us. I look forward to going to the game with my best friend Bronson. Go Rockies.