|Tommy Kahnle worked out of a jam that helped the Rockies win.|
The Rockies are on a mission to prove that they are an improved team. They have filled many of the holes that caused them to finish dead last in the National League West over the past two seasons. However, one area that has been the biggest question mark is the bullpen.
The game on Saturday set up with the same script that usually comes along with the Rockies when they play by the bay. The scenario was a familiar one, but the usual result didn't happen. The Rockies held on to a 1-0 lead in which the bullpen was forced to pitch six innings after starter Brett Anderson left the game with a finger injury caused in his ground out the previous inning.
Tommy Kahnle, Matt Belisle, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers and LaTroy Hawkins combined to throw six shutout innings, giving up just two hits.
Two key moments nearly derailed the Rockies win. Kahnle, forced into action right after Anderson's injury, gave up a leadoff double to Pablo Sandoval that Carlos Gonzalez lost in the sun. He then walked Buster Posey to put the go-ahead run on base. On the second pitch, Michael Morse grounded a ball to Troy Tulowitzki, who made a great play to turn the double play. Kahnle then struck out Hector Sanchez to get out of the inning.
In the 8th, Rex Brothers ran into some issues that could have sunk the Rockies. Brothers gave up a double and walked two to load the bases. With two outs, the game could go two different directions, but based on the Rockies history, the stage was set for another heartbreak.
However, Brothers stuck out Pablo Sandoval to end the threat and Hawkins worked an impressive perfect 9th inning to record the save.
The Rockies need their bullpen to not simply be decent. They need them to be reliable and potentially even better than that if they want to prove the cynics wrong. The stage has been set for them to be better than advertised.
Ottavino is throwing a slider that looks like a frisbee, Kahnle is looking like he may be a diamond in the rough that the Rockies got in the Rule 5 draft this offseason and after an impressive performance on Friday, Boone Logan might just be able to bridge the gap and give the Rockies a decent enough bullpen in which it won't be a liability.
The Rockies have had their moments already in 2014. They have been very good and very bad. They have blown leads and they have overcome deficits. The reality is, the Rockies are going to have a very special season if they want to make a playoff run. Nearly everything is going to have to go perfect for the Rockies to win their first National League West title. However, the bullpen showing that it can come in and get the job done for six innings like they did on Saturday is a huge step in the right direction.
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