|Fowler delivered for the Rockies on Saturday.|
The Rockies have had a tough week at the plate. Since Monday they have seemingly had runners on base with less than two outs in every inning. The Rockies lack of success in those situations went from frustrating to maddening as the week went on and the losses piled up.
With a chance to win it in the 9th inning, the Rockies did it again, when DJ LeMahieu was given a gift by former Rockie Mark Ellis. The normally sure-handed second baseman dropped an easy ground ball hit by LeMahieu rigth at him. The error gave the Rockies a good shot as it gave Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer coming to the plate.
Three loud outs later, the Rockies were finished with the 9th inning and headed to the 10th.
With another missed opportunity, the feeling was that the Rockies were going to blow another opportunity. However, after a perfect 10th inning from Matt Belisle, the Colorado offense went to work. After Todd Helton struck out and Nolan Arenado grounded out, Torrealba stayed hot with a single to left, followed by a hustled-out infield single from pinch hitter Wilin Rosario. Suddenly the Rockies were a hit away from a win, and Dexter Fowler took that swing on the first pitch, winning the game.
Fowler was the hero on Saturday. He has been finding his swing once again of late. However, in the wake of a slumping offense, one player must be acknowledged for his success.
Michael Cuddyer has been a spark plug for the Rockies since his activation from the disabled list. He hit his 9th home run of the season, a two-run shot that tied the game up in the 7th inning, in route to a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Since his activation, Cuddyer has gone 17-for-34 with four doubles and two home runs.
Cuddyer, hurt for a significant portion of the 2012 season, is critical to the success of the Rockies. He was the big-name free agent that the club signed before the dismal campaign. His three-year, $31.5 million contract suggests that the Rockies are putting significant weight into what he can deliver.
The 34-year-old Cuddyer, even when he isn't producing at an All-Star level, sets the tone in a positive way. It doesn't matter if he hits the ball squarely to the shortstop, or deep into the gap, Cuddyer is running like making it to first base is the difference between a win or a loss. When a veteran hustles to that degree, there isn't a younger player who has an excuse for playing halfway.
Cuddyer might not be the best outfielder in the league, but his work ethic is on display on defense as well. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in great routes. He never overthrows the cutoff man and makes the occasional throw that makes a runner regret trying to take the extra base. A fundamentally sound outfielder won't make the top plays on a regular basis, but their value to a team is extremely important.
The Rockies win, yet another comeback victory, got them over the hump of a three game losing streak in which they couldn't get anything going. Coming off of a poor series against the Astros, then having the arduous task of facing perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw on Friday night, the Rockies were in need for a game that has the potential to bring some momentum.
There are two ways to look at the Rockies over the past week. The first is to look at the standings and realize that this team could once again be tied for first place in the National League West on Sunday night if everything goes well. That can be looked at in one of two ways. The first feeling is disappointment. Imagine if this team hadn't played so poorly against the Astros. With even a few hits with runners on base in that four game set, the Rockies could be alone in first place.
The other way to look at it is to forget what has happened over the past week and realize that the Rockies escaped a bullet. They had a terrible week that had the potential of burying them fairly deep in the standings. However, neither the Giants nor the Diamondbacks took advantage, which let the Rockies off the hook.
The reality, however, is that the Rockies do not possess the talent to have too many weeks like the one they just got through without getting themselves into serious trouble. This team has been very streaky in the early going of the season. If they want to surprise everyone, they need to keep the losing streaks as short as possible, find ways to re-group and get back on the winning course.
Despite some blown leads of late, the Rockies starting pitching has been extremely impressive, considering their expectations. If this team can continue to get decent starting pitching and find a way to get a few more timely hits, the sky is the limit in a division that no one seems to want to run away with.
The Rockies have another very important game on Sunday. Taking the three-game series against the Dodgers requires them to defeat Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Korean dominated the Rockies the first time he faced them, striking out 12 in six innings pitched. He is currently 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA. That means that Jorge De La Rosa is going to have to have a very good game in order to keep the offense in the game.
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