|Nolan Arenado crushed two home runs on Saturday.|
The Colorado Rockies won a game that would have shown up in the loss column in 2013. With their ace, Jorge De La Rosa on the mound, the Rockies struggled to a 4-0 deficit in the early going. De La Rosa had really good stuff, even hitting 96 MPH on his fastball, however, the Diamondbacks had found a way to foul off the good stuff and wait for the stuff they could drive.
The Rockies didn't quit when they got down. The scoring started for the Rockies when reigning National League batting champion Michael Cuddyer drove a first-pitch sinker into the Rockies bullpen to cut the lead in half.
On Friday, the Rockies offense went nuts. They notched 17 hits and scored 12 runs. Top to bottom the Rockies lineup devoured the Diamondbacks pitching. The Rockies crushed the Diamondbacks--with the exception of one hitter. Nolan Arenado went hitless in a game that saw every other starter contributing.
Arenado made up for his tough start to the season on Saturday. Two batters after Cuddyer got the Rockies back in the game, Arenado drilled a 93 MPH sinker to the deepest part of the park. The ball was just over the reach of centerfielder AJ Pollock's glove. In fact, it went into his glove, and right back out of it.
Two innings later, Arenado smacked his second homer of the day, this team into the left field seats. The two homer night propelled the Rockies offense in a nine-run barrage that might just have some Rockies fans believing again.
Arenado is a big guy, but he doesn't look like the strongest guy in baseball. He is in great shape, but nothing suggests that he would be a power hitter. His first solo blast highlights just how strong he is. The ball literally went to the deepest part of the park, right in the corner where the center field wall turns into the right field wall.
After a season in which he showed so many flashes of brilliance at third base, Arenado could surprise some people who believe that he can't hit Major League pitching. Having Arenado start to reach his potential at the plate in 2014 could go a long way to convince the skeptics that the Rockies have the talent to stay out of the basement in the NL West.
While Arenado had a great night, Rockies fans shouldn't look past one particular at-bat that came when the game was still hanging in the balance. DJ LeMahieu stepped to the plate in the 7th inning with no one out and runners at first and third and a two run lead. He battled back from an 0-2 count, all the way back to a full count. He fouled off five pitches, then drilled the 12th pitch of the at-bat deep to right-center field. Despite a phenomenal catch by Pollock, the sacrifice fly scored Brandon Barnes from third base. A strikeout in that situation could easily change the game. Instead, he continued fighting and did exactly what was needed in that situation.
It must also be mentioned that Charlie Blackmon added three more hits on Saturday. He went 3-for-4. A three hit day for Blackmon almost seems like a disappointment after the six hit day he had on Friday. His hot bat is making the Rockies decision to keep him as the starting center fielder look really smart in the early going.
The fight that the Rockies showed was impressive. It is fun to see this team play with heart. It is fun to see them play with a purpose. It is nice to see that they believe that they can win.
Go back to August. Pretend that you were out doing something else and couldn't be near a TV or radio. Turn on the Rockies game in the top of the 4th inning and see the score at 4-0 Diamondbacks. Be honest, what chances would you have given the Rockies to make a comeback, let alone find a way to win? The reality is, in August, the debate would have been whether the Rockies would actually score a run or not.
The Rockies go for the sweep on Sunday. Brett Anderson takes the ball for the first time at Coors Field facing Wade Miley, who has given the Rockies fits in the past. Facing Miley in the finale underscores the importance of winning the first two games. Even if the Rockies get shutdown on Sunday, they send the Diamondbacks off with a series loss.
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