|De La Rosa has been very good.|
On Thursday night in Arizona, the Rockies did it once again, dropping the first of a four game set with the Diamondbacks 3-2. The lack of offense, coupled with an early error and some weird baseball, spoiled an otherwise really good outing from Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa.
The Rockies had several chances to win the game. In the 5th inning, with Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill pushing 100 pitches, the Rockies loaded the bases with only one out. On a 2-2 count, Michael Cuddyer swung through a sinker out of the zone, then newly-called-up Ryan Wheeler hit an easy grounder to second base to end the threat.
With JJ Putz on the mound, the Rockies had another chance in the 9th inning. With two outs, Dexter Fowler worked a walk, representing the tying run. That allowed Carlos Gonzalez to step to the plate with a chance to do something big. However, the struggles continued for Gonzalez, who swung wildly at two splitters that were well out of the strike zone, ending the game with a strikeout.
After an energizing win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon, the Rockies couldn't keep it rolling. The offense had plenty of chances, but couldn't get it done.
The reality is, the offense, which is one of the best in the league, has struggled for the better part of a week. The struggles have gone largely unnoticed because the team is still winning. However, with the exception of the 12 inning game on Wednesday, the Rockies haven't scored more than four runs since the 18th of April when the Rockies scored almost as many runs as degrees in the temperature.
This team depends on hitting. They need the offense to put up runs consistently. The starting pitching has been surprisingly good, but they are not going to win many games in which the Rockies score two or three runs and win.
It wasn't the Rockies night on Thursday, but there were still some encouraging signs from the club. There is no way to overstate the importance of De La Rosa's outing. In all, he went six innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned on one mistake to Mike Goldschmidt. He was victimized by some strange plays, in which pitches weren't squared up, but were cued through the infield.
For De La Rosa, the continued improvement is a good sign. After 2009, no one questioned his talent. However, after Tommy John surgery and nearly two years away from the game, his effectiveness was questioned. De La Rosa has struggled mentally in the past, and regaining his composure after two years away seemed like a daunting task. So far, he has proven the critics wrong and done very well.
Beyond De La Rosa, another bright spot for the Rockies is Edgmer Escalona. The righty-reliever has had a very good season for the Rockies. His hard, sinking fastball seems to sneak passed batters. He has struck out 10 batters, while walking only one.
If the Rockies want to contend in September, they must find ways to win games like Thursday night's. They have to get clutch hits. They have to be better. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about this Rockies team. They have more talent than anyone expected them to have and they have taken huge strides. The offense will hit, and if the pitching can keep it close, the Rockies will win more games than they lose. That is a huge step in the right direction.
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