|Wilin Rosario broke out on Thursday night.|
It doesn't always work out for the Rockies, as was the case on Thursday night against the Padres, as the Rockies lost 6-5 in 12 innings to start the four-game series on the wrong foot.
Despite the loss from the Rockies, this team displayed something that they have been consistently showing all season long. They don't give in. They don't quit fighting, and they believe that they can win every game that they play.
Rockies fans are still un-training themselves from the disaster that was the 2012 season. When the Rockies went down 4-0, those who have followed the Rockies in recent years are accustomed to them shutting it down and mailing in the rest of the game. Many times, that attitude dragged itself into the next day and resulted in back-to-back bad games.
In 2013, the mindset is clearly different. It showed once again on Thursday. Wilin Rosario, mired in a three week slump, finally broke out. In the midst of the slump, the baby bull was so far out on his front foot that he couldn't do anything but weakly ground out or hit a weak pop fly.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Jordan Pacheco took a great two-out at-bat. He drilled a ball the opposite way and ended up with a double. Rosario came to the plate and fouled a pitch back. The catcher took two strikes and looked like it was going to be another wasted at-bat. Instead, he lined the 0-2 pitch to deep left field, scoring Pacheco. Frankly, the swing wasn't perfect. Rosario has hit balls harder, but the cameras caught something very important. Looking over at the dugout, Rosario flashed a smile that had relief written all over it. He looked visibly relaxed.
When Rosario stepped back to the plate in the 8th inning, the scenario was very similar. Pacheco had just lined a two-out single to right field. Rosario needed to do something big to keep his team in the game. He fouled the first pitch back, but it was possibly the most encouraging foul ball of the season for the Rockies. Rosario was right on the pitch. He kept his weight back and his timing was perfect. The Rosario from April and early May was at the plate. Not the catcher from the last half of May.
After two more pitches, Rosario hit a moon-shot into the left-center field seats, tying the game at five.
The game didn't end the way the Rockies wanted it to. First base umpire Ed Hickox may have had something to do with that, on a hideous call at first base that allowed the winning run to score in the 12th inning.
The difference in this Rockies team is very evident. They believe in themselves. They have a chance to win every game that they play. That is a good sign.
With the improved mentality, the next step is becoming evident. If the Rockies want to win, Jhoulys Chacin must start pitching like an ace, or at least a top-of-the-rotation kind of pitcher.
The righty has great stuff. His changeup can be devastating to a right-hander and his slider has great bite. However, he cannot seem to avoid the big inning. It is frustrating to watch because it doesn't look like bad luck. It looks like Chacin has no clue what he is doing on the mound during that inning. His mechanics break down, and it seems like the opposing team could only make an out if they made a mistake.
The conclusion is that Chacin loses his focus. His stuff is too good to simply forget how to pitch. It isn't like he is tipping his pitches either, because he comes back out in later innings and pitches the way he is capable of pitching. His one inning struggles are baffling. It doesn't make sense.
The Rockies offense is chock full of talent. Even when Tulo and CarGo don't hit (the duo combined to go 0-for-11) they still can score enough runs to win games. They have a lineup that isn't easy to face, and doesn't have a spot that is easy to pitch to. However, to win games and be serious contenders, the Rockies need more than a good lineup.
If the Rockies want to win now, Chacin has to gain focus. He can't disappear for an inning in every start that he makes. The lineup cannot be depended on to win every game. Jorge De La Rosa has been far better than anyone predicted. The Rockies starting pitching is far better than anyone expected. However, it is time to take the next step. If this team was looking to finish in fourth or fifth place in the NL West, Chacin's one inning disasters would be acceptable. However, this is a team that has a chance to win. If they are going to win, they need their most talented pitcher to figure out what he is doing. They need him to focus and become mentally tough.
The reality is, this Rockies team is good enough to win. They believe that they are good enough to win. The next step is for everyone in the clubhouse to have enough focus to realize that they all have to be at their best to win. They can't mentally disappear and still succeed.
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