|Jorge De La Rosa was phenomenal on Tuesday.|
After a year-and-a-half recovery process from Tommy John surgery, coupled with De La Rosa's past issues with his own psyche, to come into 2013 leaning on De La Rosa as a dependable starting pitcher for the Rockies was one of the many reasons that critics saw the Rockies as a 100-loss team.
Through the first five weeks of the season, the hard-throwing lefty is showing that he is someone who the club can lean on, and who has the capability on any given night to dominate the opposition. Tuesday night against the Yankees happened to be that night for De La Rosa.
As the rain fell on Coors Field, continuing the tough weather luck the Rockies have had at home, De La Rosa dominated the Yankees. He pitched six shutout innings, giving up just three hits. He walked one and struck out two.
De La Rosa recorded nine outs via the groundball, with only two flyball outs. His ability to mix in all of his pitches and throw them for strikes helped him stay out of trouble.
With Troy Tulowitzki out of the lineup, much of the weight falls onto the shoulders of Carlos Gonzalez. Much like De La Rosa, CarGo was up to the challenge. With a runner on and two outs in the 6th inning, Gonzalez launched a no-doubter full count pitch into the Rockies bullpen, giving the Rockies a 2-0 lead, which would be all they needed to pick up the win.
The home run was the lone hit for Gonzalez. However, Josh Rutledge, hitting in the two-hole, continued swinging a hot bat for the Rockies. He recorded three hits, one of which came immediately before the Gonzalez home run.
For the Rockies, having a healthy and dominant De La Rosa is a positive that cannot be overstated. Having a guy who can go out every fifth day and provide a team with an outing like he had on Tuesday will ensure that the Rockies have a chance to stay in the hunt. With a lineup good enough to win some games on their own, having a pitcher who can be dominant makes the Rockies a serious threat.
With De La Rosa turning the corner, imagine how good this team can be if just one other starter steps up, or if a starter from Triple-A steps in and becomes a guy the Rockies can depend on. Jhoulys Chacin has shown that he can also dominate, but needs to prove he can stay healthy. If he and De La Rosa stay healthy and continue to build on what they have done in the early-going, the sky is the limit for these Rockies.
The Yankees that the Rockies are facing this week are by no means anything close to the 1927 lineup that earned the nickname "murderers row." However, when facing any Yankees team there is a certain level of hype. There is a certain level of anticipation. It ensures that the game will be in the national spotlight. The Rockies answered that call on Tuesday night.
An encouraging sign for the Rockies is that they were able to lock down a win when the offense didn't have a great night. With Tulowitzki out of the lineup, the dynamic simply isn't the same. With only two runs scored, it was going to take a great pitching performance, and the Rockies got just that.
While De La Rosa deserves much of the credit, it shouldn't be forgotten what the bullpen did to lock down the victory for the Rockies. Matt Belisle bounced back from his rough outing on Friday night and pitched a scoreless 7th. Following Belisle was Rex Brothers, who used his slider to baffle the Yankees. His scoreless 8th led to Rafael Betancourt's scoreless 9th to record his 9th save of the season.
If the back-end of the Rockies bullpen continues to shutdown the opposition, it might be time to give the three B's in the bullpen a solid nickname. If they continue to perform as they have, they should be given a nickname that adds some intimidation to facing them.
With the win, the Rockies can win the series with the Yankees on Wednesday night. In order for them to accomplish this, Juan Nicasio is going to have to step up. It is his turn to take the reins and have a dominant performance. Nicasio must figure out how to develop a shutdown pitch. His pitch count gets elevated because batters can sit foul off pitches until they get what they want to hit. With only two real pitches that he throws, he simply doesn't have a put-away pitch. For him to succeed in a starters role, he must become more fine with those two pitches in order to get outs and get deep into games.
Rockies fans will attempt to out-cheer Yankees fans again on Wednesday night at Coors Field. With rain in the forecast, the hope is that the game can get played with no delays.
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