|Franklin Morales was great on Thursday.|
With the eyes of the Denver sports world waiting for the Avalanche's incredible come from behind win, Franklin Morales was quietly stating his case for a permanent spot in the Colorado Rockies starting rotation.
For some reason, when Morales pitches, the sense of confidence and domination simply doesn't exist. Even when he has thrown six innings of four hit, one run baseball, Morales looks like he is one pitch away from throwing the game away.
Morales has great stuff, but is so erratic that it never seems like he is pounding the strike zone or throwing the ball right where he wants. However, on Thursday afternoon in San Diego, Morales was good enough to get the job done. His lone mistake came when he caught to much of the plate with Xavier Nady at bat. Nady drilled the ball to the facade of the second deck of the stands. However, that was all the Padres would get off of Morales.
The Rockies return home from a seven-game road trip in which they went 3-4. Frankly, going into the trip, they probably would have taken those results. For a road trip that was nearly .500, it sure felt like the Rockies were closer to 2-5 or even 1-6. Every game seemed hard fought and tough. The Rockies seemed like they had to scratch and claw for every game.
The Rockies scratched out a win in San Francisco, but were in all three games. A few bad pitches spelled doom for the club in all of the losses, but the Rockies were in the games.
While Morales was phenomenal in the getaway game, he wasn't the only Rockie who gave the Rockies reason for hope. With a one run lead, Rex Brothers strolled to the mound in the 7th inning. He had given up a walk-off homer in San Francisco, then couldn't find the strike zone as he helped blow a four-run Rockies lead in the series opener in San Diego.
With fans doubting that Brothers could return to form, he was as dominant as he has been through the short 2014 campaign. While has fastball was still only around 92 MPH, his slider had returned to form and he was pounding the strike zone. His 1-2-3 inning came with a sigh of relief from Rockies fans.
Many fans were jumping off of the Brothers bandwagon. To say that it was jumping the gun is an understatement. Brothers was nearly an All-Star a year ago and looked like he was primed to be the club's closer before the acquisition of LaTroy Hawkins. Brothers wasn't exactly getting crushed, he was struggling to find the strike zone. The reality is, every pitcher, relievers specifically, struggle at times. The struggles are magnified because of the fact that a reliever like Brothers pitches in high leverage situations.
With Brett Anderson on the shelf for at least a couple of months, the Rockies are going to need someone to step up and fill in for at least the time that it will take for Jhoulys Chacin to complete his own rehab. Morales stated his case on Thursday. If he can continue to pitch well, the competition will turn to Morales and Jordan Lyles for the remaining spot in the rotation.
The reality is, the Rockies history is chock full of west coast road trips that started the downward spiral of another wasted season. The grind of the seven game series felt much like those road trips. However, the results were much different. A 3-4 record normally isn't something that is to be celebrated, but for the Rockies, it is a step in the right direction.
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Rockies have done enough to give hope to their fan base. They have shown that they are going to fight and that they are good enough to compete. That is a good sign for the Rockies.
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