Thursday, July 11, 2013

Colorado Rockies win with team effort against the Padres, need big series in LA before All-Star Break

It is impossible to describe how valuable Jorge De La Rosa is to the Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies scored five runs in San Diego on Wednesday night, cruising to a much-needed series victory, winning the rubber match 5-4. Five runs for the Rockies seemed like 15 after the struggles this offense has had on the road in the past two months.

Jorge De La Rosa took the win for the Rockies in a workman-like outing. He has had better outings, with better bite on his breaking pitches, but ultimately, he got the job done, something the Rockies have become accustomed to in 2013 with their ace lefty.

De La Rosa didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday night, but showed how far he has come in his career in the 5th inning. After walking Logan Forsythe on five pitches, De La Rosa lost a battle with Nick Hundley on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

When De La Rosa joined the Rockies in 2008, the result of an inning in which he walked the first two batters would have had a predictable outcome. De La Rosa would have given up a big hit and the inning would have spun out of control. That guy is nowhere to be found. Instead, the lefty starter has learned how to settle down, get outs and wiggle his way out of tough spots.

The corner that De La Rosa has turned is one that most big leaguers never make. If the mentality isn't there to dominate, it is rare for that player to figure things out at the big league level. De La Rosa defied those odds and has become better than a good Major League pitcher, he has become dominant.

After being a huge question mark coming into the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery, De La Rosa has returned to the form that he showed in 2009 when he won 17 games and nearly lead the Rockies to their first-ever National League West crown.

De La Rosa was done in the 6th inning after giving up a walk, then a wall-scraping home run to Carlos Quentin, which got the Padres within two runs. He was done after the homer, finishing with 99 pitches.

In all, De La Rosa went five innings, giving up just two hits. However, two runs crossed the plate on the Quentin home run and the pitch count got elevated because of the four walks he gave up. He also struck out four Padres.

For the first time in a while, the Rockies pulled off the definition of a team win. They combined for 13 hits, with every position player notching at least one hit, and even De La Rosa contributing at the plate with a sacrifice bunt, something he struggles with.

Beyond the offense, the defense played well. Charlie Blackmon made a phenomenal catch in the bottom of the 8th inning, robbing Forsythe of a base hit with a full speed diving catch in which he took the ball off the top of the grass. The catch came an inning after the Triple-A call-up had drilled a two-out RBI triple down the right field line to give the Rockies a much needed insurance run.

The bullpen also contributed. Despite giving up two runs, the relievers got out of trouble when they needed to. Rafael Betancourt gave up a run in the 9th, but was able to get Quintin to pop out for the third out of the inning, giving the Rockies the game.

Edgmer Escalona, who hasn't been sharp since his return from the disabled list. On Wednesday he gave up a hit and a walk, but was able to get out of the jam.

The reality is, a game like Wednesday's was exactly what the Rockies have needed--and failed to get--since Troy Tulowitzki went down nearly a month ago. The day before Tulo returns to the lineup, the Rockies got that type of win.

The victory gives them a chance to go into the All-Star Break with a decent road trip. If the Rockies win two of four in Los Angeles, they will end up with a respectable trip. Especially considering the Rockies start getting swept by the Diamondbacks while scoring just two runs to begin the trip, if Colorado ends up winning four games of the 10, they are better than what anyone would have expected on Sunday night.

If the Rockies can be somewhere around three games out of first place at the end of the weekend, they will have a solid argument for being a contender. That will only happen if they have a good four-game series against the Dodgers.

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