|Nolan Arenado looks like the real deal.|
On Saturday night at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies top prospect put an exclamation point on his first week in the big leagues. After driving two balls to the warning track that resulted in loud outs earlier in the game off of Rays starter and reigning American League Cy Young David Price, Arenado made it happen when it counted.
With two outs in the 7th inning and the bases loaded, Arenado blasted the price pitch to the deepest part of the park. The ball sailed into the seats, and sent Price to the showers. What was a tight game was suddenly a laugher. The newest member of the Rockies was showing exactly why the Rockies decided to call him up after just a month at the Triple-A level.
Watch the new third baseman step to the plate and there is one thing that is distinctly different from the typical rookie. There is no deer-in-the-headlights look. There is not a sense that he is overwhelmed with the realization that he is facing pitchers like Price, Josh Beckett and others who have etched their name in the history books of Major League Baseball.
Arenado steps to the plate with a calm confidence. He acts like he belongs at the big league level and he knows it. He isn't overwhelmed by the speed of things, he seems to fit right in.
Two weeks ago, people were wondering if this Rockies lineup was good enough to overcome their mediocre pitching. The crazy thing is that those thoughts were there with Chris Nelson manning the hot corner. Suddenly Arenado moves into the lineup and looks like he is ready to go. In the early going he looks like he is going to be able to add a serious threat to this already powerful lineup.
This Rockies team, with Arenado now a fixture at third base, the power that has emerged from the bat of Dexter Fowler, Wilin Rosario's continued power, now has a lineup that will be feared by any pitcher that takes the mound. It won't matter if they are at Coors Field or on the road.
In the 3rd inning, the Rays plated three runs on Jon Garland. With Price on the mound for the Rays, it seemed like it might have been a tough task for the Rockies to pull off the victory.
Rewind one year and imagine the 2012 Colorado Rockies going down 3-1 to a pitcher of Price's ilk. The result would have been so predictable that fans could have turned off the TV and waited to read the recap in the paper the next day. The offense would have shut it down and hoped for better results the next day. Fast-forward back to 2013 and one year later, the Rockies suddenly show fight. They believe that they can beat anyone. On Friday night the offense didn't care that they were facing Matt Moore, who had been un-hittable so far in 2013, on Saturday it didn't bother them that they were facing the reigning American League Cy Young.
It has been mentioned many times in the five weeks that the Rockies have been playing in games that mattered, but it must be mentioned again. This Rockies team plays with fight. When Walt Weiss was doing some of his first interviews with the media in Scottsdale, when the Rockies opening spring training, he mentioned that it would be a new era for the Rockies. He was on the teams that were labeled the Blake Street Bombers, so he played off of that and suggested that a new attitude would make them the Blake Street Bullies. That new attitude didn't take long to get adopted by the players.
This is a team that is playing like they believe they can contend. This is a team that has erased the memories of a 98-loss season that made them the embarrassment of the entire state.
This Rockies team is also showing just how bad Jim Tracy was as a manager. Every night he walked into the press room after games and gave an excuse as to why his team was under performing. He would tip his cap to the other starting pitcher several times per week. It seems that his attitude permeated the entire clubhouse.
This team no longer plays with a poor-me attitude. This team plays with a sense of urgency and a swagger that suggests there is no reason they should lose on any given night.
The Rockies may not end the season in first place, but they have shown their fans something very important. They are going to fight every single night. They aren't going to quit. This is a team that will be fun to cheer for throughout the summer. After the 2012 season, Rockies fans should be excited about this team.
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