|Yorvit Torrealba came through in the clutch on Wednesday.|
Over the course of time, in the history of this great game, there are countless examples of teams that started out hot in April, only to fizzle in the heat of the summer. The Rockies certainly could fall into that category once the fireworks explode over Coors Field on Independence Day.
However, there is something that is certain. This Rockies team is a far different team than the guys who wore purple in 2012. This team has an attitude. They aren't intimidated by anyone, and they aren't going to quit.
In a flashback to 2009, Yorvit Torrealba came through in the clutch, plating Wilin Rosario on a single to left field. Rosario had started the bottom of the 12th inning off with a double, and Torrealba brought him around to win it.
The 12th inning was fun for Rockies fans, but the impressive part of the game came in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Braves sent arguably the best closer in the game, Craig Kimbrel to the mound to finish off the sweep of the Rockies. The Braves were up 5-3 and with a guy like Kimbrel, it may as well be 10-3.
There was no quit in these Rockies, however. With two outs and two on, Dexter Fowler stepped to the plate and drilled the first pitch he saw, a 95 MPH fastball, that came within feet of leaving the park in left-center field. The ball hit off of the wall, and both Jonathan Herrera and Troy Tulowitzki trotted home to tie things up.
The win came thanks to a strong effort from the offense, but the work of the bullpen can't be discounted. The Rockies relievers combined to pitch six innings, giving up only one hit. They struck out seven and walked two. The six shutout innings were key to the Rockies comeback victory.
It would have been easy for the Rockies to pack it in. Even with a sweep, they had a good homestand, sweeping the Mets and winning a series against the Diamondbacks. It would have been easy for the team to quit and head to the airport knowing they did well, but dropped a series to the best team in baseball, the Braves.
In reality, the Rockies didn't need to wait until the 9th inning to pack it in. They could have looked at the pitching match-up the night before and decided this wasn't going to be there day. With Tyler Chatwood taking Jhoulys Chacin's spot in the rotation, and Tim Hudson going for his 200th career victory for the Braves, the need to explain the difference in talent doesn't need to be explained.
Apparently the Rockies didn't care who was pitching for either team. They didn't care in the 1st inning, or in the 9th.
There are baseball experts who will argue that talent is the only thing that matters in the game. They suggest that clubhouse chemistry, attitude and anything else that isn't measurable is a waste of time to worry about. The 2013 Rockies are out to prove just how important those factors are.
Essentially the same team that took the field a year ago, these Rockies are a completely different team. Is it the Walt Weiss effect? Is it simply just removing Jim Tracy? Ironically, when Tracy took over the team in 2009, he was the benefactor of being "anyone other than Clint Hurdle." Suddenly, Tracy is the guy who needed to be replaced--by anyone.
The naked eye doesn't know what goes on in the clubhouse, on the team plane, in the dugout, or any time in between. But what is obvious is that this team enjoys playing the game more than the team did last year. They look like the believe in themselves. They don't give away games, they keep fighting.
Does this mean that the Rockies are going to the playoffs? That question is impossible to answer immediately following a homestand that saw three snow-outs. It is far too early. However, what Wednesday afternoon showed was that they can play with the best teams in baseball. They may have only won one of the three games against the Braves, but they won it against the best the Braves had to offer.
What the Rockies have shown through April 24th is that they will be a much more entertaining team to watch in 2013. More importantly, they are showing that the tailspin that they looked to be in a year ago may be back on track. This team might be headed in the right direction. That should be a breath of fresh air for any Rockies fan.
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