This was one of those games you probably had to see to believe, and whatever you were doing last night instead of watching it probably wasn’t as good. Dinger judges you.
Things started out a little rough for Juan Nicasio, who got 2 quick outs in the 1st and then proceeded to walk the bases loaded and give up a 2-run single to Paul Goldschmidt. What happened to Nicasio’s command? I don’t know, but I can say that I think we should expect these hiccups from Nicasio from time to time. He’s still a young pitcher, and he still missed a lot of playing time last season. Yes, his comeback has been stunning, but we’re not going to see a Cy Young campaign from him or anything. What I hope we also won’t see is too many more 44-pitch innings. Needless to say, Nicasio didn’t last through 3. His 2nd inning was a solid 1-2-3, but then in the 3rd he struggled again, giving up 4 more runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. One of those walks went to opposing pitcher Daniel Hudson, which is something that should never happen. It was a forgettable outing, but no reason not to think he won’t pick up the pieces and nail it again next time.
Here’s the good news though: Esmil Rogers came in with 2 outs and closed down the inning. Then he pitched 2 more innings and allowed just 2 hits, with no walks and 3 K’s. That’s the stuff, Esmil. He hasn’t given up an earned run yet this season. It’s a matter of time, of course, but I’m willing to rein in my Esmil hating a little bit and give him a chance to do something right this year. If he’s going to remain on the team, this is what we need from him: to come into games where the starter just doesn’t have it and give us several innings of quality work, at which point he can hand it off to Matt Belisle or the set-up guys. And that’s just what happened last night. Belisle pitched a brilliant 2 innings, and Rex Brothers and Rafael Betancourt did their thing as well. It was a stellar night from the pen, like so many we saw early in the season last year.
Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t matter what the pitchers do if the offense can’t get anything going, and that’s something else that made this game work for the Rockies. For once, they didn’t look at what the starting pitcher was doing and lay down and die. They fought, and they won.
The key to wins for this team is always production from the middle of the order, and that’s what won this game. Both Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton went 3-for-5. Tulo scored 2 runs and Helton had 3 RBI. Michael Cuddyer was just 1-for-4, but he’s still got a team-best .357 batting average, and he did score the one time he reached base. Carlos Gonzalez also had a pair of hits and a pair of runs to go with them. And how about Ramon Hernandez? 2-for-4 with 3 RBI and a solo home run. I’m a huge fan of Chris Iannetta‘s, but this was the kind of offensive game we could never seem to get out of him. Dexter Fowler also contributed a solo shot, and seeing as how he didn’t get his first home run till nearly the end of last season, that’s quite a pleasant surprise.
The best AB of the night goes to Helton, who came to the plate with 2 outs and a runner on 3rd in the bottom of the 8th. He hit one of his signature doubles on the second pitch he saw from Bryan Shaw, driving in Cargo and the go-ahead run. That totally makes up for his unfortunately placed line drive in the game against the Giants on Thursday. Can he never retire, please?
The Rockies need more games like this. This lineup can produce 7 runs more often than not, and they should be. Especially on days when the starting pitcher has trouble. Let’s hope the team can make a statement against the D-backs and sweep, or at least win, this series.