|Jorge De La Rosa was very good on Sunday.|
If people had forgotten just how good De La Rosa has been in his career with the Colorado Rockies, they were reminded on Sunday. The Dodgers simply couldn't figure De La Rosa out. In seven innings, De La Rosa gave up just four hits and two walks. He struck out three. He got 12 outs via the ground ball with only one out in the air.
The Rockies don't seem to be all that impressed with De La Rosa. Until this year, his jersey was never for sale in the dugout stores or in the stadium team store. Despite being fifth on the Rockies all-time wins leader, there was no discussion of an extension as the lefty headed into the final season of his contract.
When De La Rosa struggled to start the season, it was remarkable how quickly fans jumped off the bandwagon. The confidence from fans about De La Rosa seems very quick to forget how much he has contributed to the Rockies overall success, and not just for one season. His success in 2009 was a huge reason the Rockies won 92 games and landed in the playoffs. His success is not something that was a flash in the pan.
The reason for the lack of support from management is hard to understand. What is easy to understand, however, is how important De La Rosa's success will be to the Rockies success. The starting rotation, despite being better than expected through June, has flaws. It has holes and bad outings could snowball and absolutely crush the bullpen, which has it's own question marks.
De La Rosa succeeding means that the Rockies have a legitimate stopper. He is a guy who can single-handily give the club an outing like he did on Sunday and force a win. It doesn't take too much run support to win a baseball game in which the starting pitcher gives up only one run and goes seven innings.
When De La Rosa is dominating, his change up is brilliant. On Sunday it fluttered around the strike zone, baffling Dodgers batters all afternoon. He throws it in nearly every count and is able to continue to use it effectively because he can zing in a 95 mph fastball as well.
The fact that De La Rosa looks like an ace again is very good news for the Rockies.
While De La Rosa was dominant, he was helped out by Nolan Arenado at third base. The Gold Glove winner made three plays that a typical third baseman wouldn't even come close to. He dives to his right as well as anyone in the game. On top of that, he gets up and makes the throw across the bases, one that is easily over 120 feet, look easy. There aren't enough words to describe the defense that Arenado plays. He makes highlight reel defensive plays on a nightly basis.
With De La Rosa's stellar outing, coupled with Arenado's defense, the trifecta for the day was the Rockies offense looking very good. They made Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu look very average. The lefty wasn't able to keep the Rockies batters on their heels. The club battered him around for six runs in five innings. They notched nine hits in those five innings.
The Rockies win was as complete as it gets. The offense was good, the defense was good and the starting pitching gave the Rockies a good enough performance for them to relax at the plate without trying to force the issue.
The toughest task for any Rockies team is going to be finding ways to win away from Coors Field. It has always been a problem, and it seems that it always will be a problem. Scratching out wins on the road is very important. Winning division games against teams that the Rockies traditionally struggle with like the Dodgers and the Giants, is even more important to this club's success.
The Rockies can make a statement on this six-game trip. They already have a series victory under their belt against the Dodgers. If they can win the series against a struggling, but talented Diamondbacks team they will return to Coors Field with the confidence that they are not like other Rockies teams that had to rack up as many wins as possible at Coors Field because they simply weren't going to get it done on the road. If they can win games on the road, then dominate Coors Field, they might just surprise everyone.
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