I will say this about the Rockies’ series against the Astros this week: that’s how it should have gone. This is the Astros! So averaging 10 runs per game seems like a small request. Fortunately, rather than phoning it in as they have so often lately, the Rockies delivered.
Of course, to be entirely fair, Houston’s starting rotation ERA is hovering at around 4.20, while the Rockies’ is over 5.00. Only Minnesota has a worse ERA for starters. So it’s just as unsurprising that the Astros scored 23 runs in this series. I don’t see that kind of scoring changing any time soon, while we’ve got the rotation we’ve got, so I guess we’d better just hope the offense has hit some kind of stride and can keep scoring more than the pitcher gives up. That’s our best chance to climb out of this hole.
Last night’s starter, Jeremy Guthrie, was just okay, as he has been in so many outings. He lasted 7 innings, which is a pretty deep outing as far as the Rockies’ rotation goes, but he did give up 5 earned runs on 12 hits. The Stros were making contact on all of his pitches, which has generally been the case. In order to fulfill the role we needed him to fill on this team, he had to have at least one good pitch that he could consistently fool a hitter with. He doesn’t. And his one strikeout last night is a testament to that.
The bullpen was great as almost always: Matt Reynolds struck out the side in the 8th inning, and Josh Roenicke managed a scoreless inning despite allowing 2 hits. Don’t underestimate this pen, guys. It’s not perfect, and it has its days, but if we can hand it a lead it knows what to do. That’s a valuable thing.
Now let’s talk offense. Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, and Jordan Pacheco all recorded 3 hits. One of Cargo’s was a 3-run home run in his first at-bat, giving him 4 homers in as many AB’s, which ties a major league record and sets one for the club. If we could put what he does when he’s hot in a bottle and make him drink it every day, we’d have an MVP without question. Even Drew Goodman couldn’t believe his eyes, and he’s a pretty unflappable guy. Cargo now has 44 RBI on the season, and while no one can touch Josh Hamilton‘s 57 right now, 44 is good for second in the majors (alongside Andre Ethier). And Cargo has more stolen bases, more walks, and more extra-base hits than either of those guys right now. Best player in baseball? At the moment, absolutely.
Of course, I don’t want Cuddy’s day lost in the shuffle, as he contributed just as much as Cargo did. I think it’s safe to say he’s out of the mini slump he dealt with in early May, and I’m relieved. He needs to be productive in order to earn his paycheck, and when he is productive, the middle of the order is a whole lot stronger. I’m very happy to have him hitting clean-up while Troy Tulowitzki rides the bench and nurses his groin. And let me remind you that this time last year, we were just days away from Cargo getting pushed to the lead-off spot because he couldn’t do anything as #3. Nothing could be further from the truth now. All of this is just to say that yes, losing Tulo hurts, but this lineup can do damage without him.
Honorable mentions: Dexter Fowler managed to walk twice, which allowed him to score twice (he also struck out twice, but progress is progress). Marco Scutaro hit a solo home run, impressive for a guy who’s not really a power hitter. And workhorse Todd Helton contributed an RBI double as well.
The real question, of course, is can they sustain this? Do they have momentum now, especially offensively? I’d like to think so, since this is the first time they’ve won 4 games in a row this season. And the homestand continues this weekend, which should help as well, especially since the Dodgers are sans Matt Kemp. But until the pitching improves, things are not going to get better long-term. Let’s hope Josh Outman produces a brilliant start tonight, since that would certainly point us in the right direction.
The Rockies play the Dodgers in a weekend series at Coors Field.