When you’re a team like the Rockies, you can’t necessarily expect to play with the big boys all that often. Free agents toting massive contracts consider Denver flyover country, and we aren’t surprised at that. We make the best of what we have to work with, and every so often we even make the playoffs with it, but it’s a certain kind of team, and there’s no use pretending otherwise.
But none of that means the Rockies can’t occasionally be part of the national conversation. Of course, it’s always for something sort of quirky and strange, but in any case, now and then they do something worthy of notice. For the first time in a while, that happened last night, and it came courtesy of 49-year-old Jamie Moyer.
Moyer made his third attempt at becoming the oldest pitcher in major league history to win a game, and this time the attempt was successful. It’s hard to think of a guy I’d wish this accomplishment on more than Moyer, who’s been an absolute pro and a class act from day one with the Rockies. Furthermore, he should have won his first two attempts, but the defense behind him failed him, and then the offense couldn’t stage a comeback. Finally, everybody else came through to get Moyer the win he deserved.
Moyer allowed a handful of baserunners, but he’s proven that he’s a master at handling that, and he even got a pick-off in the 2nd. In the 3rd, when Troy Tulowitzki committed another error, muffing the throw to 1st, Moyer got a double play out of it, preventing even an unearned run. Moyer induced 3 DP’s in 7 innings. In the bottom half of the 3rd, Dexter Fowler took Anthony Bass deep on a 1-2 pitch and scored Marco Scutaro to put the Rockies up 2-0. (How weird is this paragraph? I should be writing about a Fowler error and Tulo homer and instead it’s the other way around.)
The Rockies added another run in the 4th when Wilin Rosario doubled in Michael Cuddyer. Cuddy, by the way, is the early frontrunner for Rockies MVP for April. He’s been so consistent on offense and is really making that contract look like a worthwhile investment. He also made an excellent catch in the right field corner that prevented extra bases. He was just so-so in spring training, so I’m glad we’re finally seeing the real Cuddy.
In the 7th, Moyer’s final inning, things got a little dicey when Tulo made ANOTHER ERROR, this one of the embarrassing through-the-legs variety. This is getting serious guys. More than one multiple-error games for him, and 6 already when the season is less than two weeks old. He had 6 total all last season. His all-but-assured Gold Glove for this season has already evaporated, unless he can somehow play perfect defense for the rest of the year. And more importantly, this cannot happen. We need him to be that Gold Glove shortstop because our pitchers are going to allow runs, and every run saved is critical. Especially Moyer, who did not throw a single pitch that touched 80 miles per hour last night. He’s going to get contact, and he needs the fielders to back him up. In each of his three starts, they have not. Fortunately, this time they still managed to get him the win, but COME ON.
Two runs scored in that inning, but both were unearned thanks to the Tulo error. The Rockies were hanging onto a 1-run lead going into the bottom of the 7th. Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. hit back-t0-back singles to lead off, and then there were three outs in a row. Scutaro’s sac bunt is excused, but Fowler’s strikeout is definitely not. Two runners in scoring position, 1 out, and nobody scores? Moyer was probably in the dugout, both hands on his contract, thinking very seriously about ripping it in half.
Rex Brothers pitched a stellar 8th, walking one but getting out of it with a double play. Still a 1-run lead, and Tulo and Todd Helton both reached base to start the bottom of the 8th. Perfect opportunity for more runner stranding, but guess who Bud Black decided to bring to the mound? None other than our own former Huston Street. We all know what Huston does in this situation. He gives up an RBI double! And then a sacrifice fly! And then it’s a three-run lead.
Rafael Betancourt must have been watching Huston from the bullpen and thinking, I really should try harder to model my game after his. The man is a wizard. So Raffy promptly gave up a solo home run to Nick Hundley and then put on a pair of runners with 1 out in the 9th. Moyer might have put a tiny tear in that contract. Betancourt got himself out of it, though, and ended the game with a swinging strikeout by Yonder Alonso.
Let’s end this thing with Jamie Moyer, who deserves every last bit of the praise and recognition he’s getting. He’s 49 years old, he’s only recently recovered from Tommy John surgery, and he’s a master of knowing his stuff and working in his wheelhouse. These days, as Hayden noted last night, organizations aren’t willing to take a chance on a pitcher who doesn’t have electric stuff. Moyer’s stuff is far from electric, but he knows himself and he gets the job done. And for once, finally, the Rockies did their job too and got him this win.