Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jhoulys Chacin takes no hitter into seventh inning as he continues making his mark for Colorado Rockies

Jhoulys Chacin flirted with a no-hitter for the Rockies on Wednesday.
The Colorado Rockies haven't had a great season. They haven't had much to be excited about. Wednesday night, however, was a night that will go down as one of the top moments in the 2013 season.

Jhoulys Chacin, in the midst of a breakout season, flirted with a no-hitter into the 7th inning on Wednesday night at Coors Field. Chacin didn't give up a hit until Brandon Crawford looped a fastball into center field with two outs in the 7th inning.

Chacin was brilliant. He mixed all of his pitches, keeping the Giants off-balance for the entire duration of the outing. On Wednesday, a night after manager Walt Weiss didn't know if he would be available after a upper-respiratory issues were effecting him on Tuesday. The sickness didn't seem to be an issue, as Chacin went out and dominated.

The Venezuelan always seems to have nasty stuff. His change-up dips and dives away from righties, his slider darts away from bats. However, his stuff usually is good enough to miss the fat part of the bat and cause ground balls, which has been the key to Chacin's success. On Wednesday, however, Chacin struck out nine Giants.

The no-hit bid was the longest at Coors Field since Hideo Nomo accomplished the feat all the way back in 1996 on a rainy night in September. It was also tied for the longest no-hit bid of the Rockies season. Many may have forgotten that Jorge De La Rosa almost made it happen back in May in St. Louis.

Chacin walked off the mound after finishing the 7th inning to a standing ovation at Coors Field. It was well deserved. The right-hander has done a great job of proving that Coors Field isn't that tough to master if a pitcher can avoid fly balls. Keeping the bat off of the ball entirely, or keeping the ball low in the zone keeps a pitcher in the game whether one foot above sea level, or one mile.

The right-hander is still just 25-years-old. He represents the future of the Rockies pitching staff. The growth that he has shown in 2013 suggests that he could be a very solid force in Colorado's rotation for many years to come. He has certainly been a bright spot for a club that hasn't had much to smile about since the end of May.

Between Chacin and De La Rosa, the Rockies have no excuse to lose. Chacin picked up his 13th win, and De La Rosa will be working on his 15th win his next time out. What De La Rosa has done in 2013 is remarkable enough in his return from Tommy John surgery. However, it has been mentioned a few times in passing, but hasn't been well publicized that De La Rosa has been dealing with a thumb injury since his start in Toronto all the way back in June. He has pitched through the bruise, and still been able to shut down almost all of his opponents consistently.

The Rockies have so much faith in their lefty that they are going to ask him to pitch a day early in order to give Tyler Chatwood one more day to recover from his rehab start. Even with the thumb injury, the Rockies feel confident enough in De La Rosa to ask him to sacrifice the extra day of rest he would have received from the off-day on Thursday and instead pitch on Friday on normal rest.

The reality is, the Rockies have something special with their two top starting pitchers. Both guys are often forgotten about because the focus on the Rockies since their inception has been their offensive prowess. Their starting pitching has typically been so bad that people have quit recognizing it when it has been good. Chacin and De La Rosa are aiming to change that.

The Rockies have overall been a disappointment in 2013, with a record that isn't going to be a big enough improvement from their 2012 clunker to inspire fans to believe that they are going in the right direction. Chacin and De La Rosa have combined to give Rockies fans a glimmer of hope that a few more pieces and the team is ready to contend.

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