Saturday, May 18, 2013

Colorado Rockies, Tyler Chatwood make a statement against San Francisco on Saturday

Tyler Chatwood made his case on Saturday.
A win on Sunday, and no one will be talking about the Colorado Rockies lackluster offense over the prior two weeks. A win on Sunday, and the conversation will move back to the Rockies being a contender.

On Saturday night, the Rockies rode the wave of momentum to a 10-2 victory over their achilles heel, the San Francisco Giants. The Rockies got a strong performance from Tyler Chatwood on the mound, the same Tyler Chatwood who was impressive against the Dodgers before being sent out for more seasoning.

The small, flame-throwing right-hander did everything he needed to do to keep the pesky Giants at bay, and give his team a chance to score enough runs against Giants starter Tim Lincecum. Chatwood went 5-2/3 innings, giving up one run on seven hits. He walked four and struck out four. The Giants had plenty of base runners, but Chatwood was able to slam the door shut when he needed to.

Maybe the most impressive part of the start for Chatwood was that he wasn't extremely sharp. He didn't have the command that he did in Los Angeles, yet, he still was able to limit the Giants to just one run.

The Rockies offense also showed up again. After a two week stretch that saw this team go from one of the best offensive attacks in baseball, to having some weaknesses, to being downright dreadful, the bats have revived from the dead.

Even in the Rockies loss to the Giants on Thursday, the offense was able to score six runs off of Matt Cain, on Friday they manhandled Madison Bumgarner, and on Saturday they knocked former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum around for six runs in five innings.

The Rockies offense is getting hot at the perfect time. They have struggled so mightily against the Giants that they were at a point where losing a four game set against them, at home, could have been devastating to any type of progress this team was hoping to make in 2013, let alone their postseason hopes.

Chatwood's performance on the mound gave him another piece of evidence as to why he shouldn't be headed back down the long I-25 stretch back to Colorado Springs. With the Rockies pitching struggles, particularly from Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio, this team needs to get solid pitching where they can. The easy answer is to option Nicasio to Colorado Springs, while allowing Chatwood to take over the role of the guy the Rockies are trying to develop at the big league level.

Of course, Chatwood isn't the only Rockies prospect making noise. The biggest name in the Rockies minor league system has done everything except force the hand of the Rockies front office. Drew Pomeranz is poised to make the Triple-A All-Star team with a 6-0 record and a 3.22 ERA in a Pacific Coast League that is full of hitter's parks, and traditionally inflates hitter's numbers incredibly.

The interesting thing for this Rockies team is that, regardless of how bad their May has been, the team is a Sunday win away from being tied with the World Champion Giants in the standings and a maximum of one game behind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Rockies are going to have struggles. They are going to go through bad stretches. The reality is, every team will have those struggles at some point in the season. For Rockies fans, it is easy to forget that because they have become accustomed to a team that completely falls apart in May. When the wheels start to get a little shaky, the fan base understandably gets nervous, anticipating another terrible slide.

As was previously published, this series, and this homestand is beyond critical for the Rockies. It is only May, but with the struggles in the early part of the month, and the absolute dominance by the Giants, this Rockies team needed to go out and prove that they can beat anyone. If they would have shrunk into their shells, the season easily could have started to tailspin, with another march towards 100 losses on it's way.

Many baseball people advise fans not to look at the standings until Memorial Day. Well, the holiday is two short weeks away and the Rockies, even if they play .500 baseball until then, should be in the mix. There aren't too many Rockies fans who would have been upset with that in March.

One of the marks of a good team is not being content. After two big wins against a team that has given them fits, the Rockies could easily take a series split and be happy with it. However, they could make a serious statement with a win on Sunday. Especially considering the Giants have Barry Zito on the mound, a guy who hasn't lost to the Rockies since Matt Holliday was a member of the Rockies and the polish on the National League pennant was still shining in 2008.

Regardless of Sunday's results, Rockies fans should be happy that this team didn't allow a devistating loss like Thursday night's to set them back. They bounced right back, came back to the park ready to battle, and got the job done two nights in a row. That is a step in the right direction. That is something people following the Rockies haven't seen in a few years.

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