Monday, June 04, 2007

Great Surprise!

Yesterday, the Rockies, facing off in the finale of their three-game set with the Reds, looked a little, well, unimpressive. Rodrigo Lopez permitted three earned runs (four total) in 4.1 innings, and Ramon Ramirez did yet another Hindenburg impression for the recently beleaguered pitching staff, recording a 1-inning, 4-run disaster to stretch the Reds' advantage to 8-2. He wasn't helped out by Hurdle calling for two intentional walks, both of which scored, but things were looking a bit dreary for the Blake Street boys. Garrett Atkins appeared to benefit from his days off, and cracked a 372-foot solo shot to left in his first at-bat, but it looked as if it was going to be yet another series loss at home (before this series, the Rockies hadn't won a home series since their season-opening set against the D-backs). The other run came from Atkins blipping a double into shallow right, followed by a screamer off the wall by NL Player of the Week (hooray for my boy!) Brad Hawpe.

Then a few things began to happen. Lineup deadweights Yorvit Torrealba and Jamey Carroll cracked back-to-back RBI singles in the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh, Holliday singled, and Helton and Atkins walked to load the bases. Hawpe started out in an 0-2 hole and crawled back to work a run-scoring walk. Naturally, Torrealba flew out on the second pitch to squelch the rally, but the Rockies had climbed to within 8-5 and weren't quite done.

Bottom of the eighth. Jamey Carroll and pinch-hitter Jeff Baker got aboard with sharp singles, and Willy Taveras beat out a bunt for his ML-leading 17th infield hit on the year. This left the bases loaded with no outs for Kazuo Matsui, and while I was cautiously hopeful, I didn't think that the guys were actually going to roar back to life after being down six runs. Kaz had different ideas and laced a game-tying triple down the right-field line, scoring everybody and making me scream loudly and in disbelieving delirium. Holliday struck out and Helton was walked, Atkins flew out, and my boy Brad laced a go-ahead single. (.455/3/8/.571/.955/1.526 for the week. Nice job). But the way the game was going, there was no way it was going to be easy, and Brian Fuentes, after allowing a leadoff double, had the guy picked off and threw the ball into center field instead, allowing the runner to move to third. He subsequently scored on a Jeff Conine single, and with the bottom of the order coming up in the ninth, the game moved into extras at a 9-9 deadlock, just like those halcyon days of yore in Coors Field when the park averaged about three or so homers a game.

Manny Corpas pitched a quick tenth, and in the bottom of the tenth, hero-of-the-day Matsui led off with a single. For some reason he made the pitcher nervous, and on the fifth straight pickoff attempt at first, there was naturally an error that allowed Matsui to move to second. (Karma, baby). Matt Holliday struck out again (not something he does that much) and yet again, they intentionally walked Helton. (Hurdle has yet to learn that unless he separates Helton and Atkins in the lineup, that is going to happen a lot. But does he? No, he just keeps letting them take the bat out of Helton's hands). But this time, Atkins came through with his third hit of the day, lashing the game-winning single into left field to allow Kaz to bolt home. Both of them got a hero's welcome (Atkins' helmet got knocked off, heh) and it was a very good sign to see Atkins' bat waking up out of its month-long slump. He was decent in April and horrendous in May, but Hurdle sat him for two days and stuck him back in after Jeff Baker's three GIDPs at the position a game earlier. Atkins rewarded him with the three-hit, multiple-RBI game, including his first homer since May 19 against the Royals, and now the trick will be maintaining the consistency. He's a big part of their offense that hasn't really shown yet, and if he's finally busted the slump (I shall refrain from asking how, Garrett, but I am grateful) then the offensive production might take a sharp upswing. That would be very nice to see.

Next on tap is to get Jason Hirsh on track. The Rockies have an off-day today, and then they get back in the saddle to close out their long homestand with a three-game series against the struggling Astros. (Then again, the Rockies have previously showed a remarkable inability to beat teams that are even worse than they are). Hirsh's ERA has ballooned from 3.41 to 5.10 over the course of his past few starts, and his last start was the eight-run disaster against the Cardinals. Last time, they were consistently fouling things off until they got a pitch they could drive, so finding his out pitch will be key. If he can't get it going, there are mutterings that he could see a stint at AAA when Josh Fogg comes back. I don't see how this would help, as pitching with the Sky Sox would be harder as they don't humidor the balls in Colorado Springs. A good outing would go a long way towards securing the number-four job he won out of spring training, and, you know, make me happy.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Did you know that you can make dollars by locking premium pages of your blog / website?
To begin just open an account on AdscendMedia and implement their content locking tool.