So, if you like baseball, you remember the 2011 postseason pretty well, because it was one of the most awesome in recent memory. Of all the awesome things, one of the most might have been the rally squirrel that disrupted the Cardinals-Phillies NLDS and that has its own Wikipedia entry and Twitter account. Now, I saw the squirrel with my own eyes just as you did, but it still seemed a little bit like an urban legend. Baseball players deal with distractions all the time, so how could one squirrel bring that much good luck? Well, I’m a believer now, because the rally squirrel turned up at Coors Field last night and bestowed his blessing on the Rockies.
It happened in the 6th inning, when Todd Helton led off with a double. The rally squirrel suddenly appeared and darted across the mound and toward third base, where it disappeared near the stands. Obviously, play was momentarily delayed as pitcher Chris Capuano collected himself. He must have thought he was out of the woods when Jordan Pacheco grounded out. But then Wilin Rosario came to the plate, and took Capuano deep on the first pitch he saw for a 2-run home run. Rally squirrel. It’s a thing.
Other cool stuff happened at the game last night, including the Rockies mostly owning Capuano, who has been the Dodgers’ best pitcher so far this season. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, though it felt like longer because he threw 98 pitches in that span, and gave up 7 runs. Only 4 were earned, thanks to some bad defense. That was especially the case in the 2nd inning, when lead-off man Michael Cuddyer reached on an errant throw by third baseman Ivan De Jesus that pulled Scott Van Slyke off the bag. Heads-up baserunning by Cuddy allowed him to advance to 3rd on a pair of long flyouts. Then Wilin Rosario walked and stole 2nd. Matt Treanor threw the ball so far away that both Cuddy and Rosario scored. It was a mess of an inning for LA, but their mess is our gain.
Cuddy scored again in the 4th after walking and advancing to 3rd on Helton’s single when Jerry Hairston made a bad throw of his own. He eventually scored on a Pacheco GIDP. Poor Chris Capuano, but truthfully the Dodgers’ offense was so lousy that the Rockies would have won on the strength of the earned runs he gave up anyway. LA only managed 3 runs. To be fair, they are crippled right now, especially without Matt Kemp. The Dodgers aren’t a team with a ton of depth, and their ability to win so far this season has rested on Kemp’s monster numbers. Our main man Troy Tulowitzki is out right now too, but what’s great is that the guys we have left more than got the job done. We don’t need Tulo as much as the Dodgers need Kemp, and I’m glad.
Outman was on a pitch count, and he reached his limit (55) at 3 1/3 innings, so he was pulled early. Still, I felt very good about his outing. Of his 55 pitches, 37 were strikes, and he recorded 5 K’s while only allowing 1 walk. He gave up 2 hits and no runs. That’s solid considering his pitching out of the bullpen this season hasn’t been anything like that good. Long-term, I’m still not sold on him as a starter, but I’m pleased with what I saw last night, especially the strikeouts.
Carlos Torres was the only pitcher who didn’t super impress me: he replaced Outman and went 2 innings, giving up a pair of runs and walking 3. It wasn’t awful, and I’d still take him over Esmil Rogers since I’d take anybody over Esmil Rogers, but in a game of great performances he stood out as decidedly meh. Adam Ottavino deservedly took the win after taking over for Torres in the 6th and finishing the inning with 2 strikeouts. He gave up 2 hits in the 7th but prevented any runs from scoring. Matt Belisle allowed the 3rd run in the 8th inning thanks to a pair of hits. The circumstances in which the run scored were just unfortunate; there were runners on the corners and Matt Treanor hit a chopper that was a little bit in no-man’s land. Luckily Helton always knows just what to do, and he charged it and was able to get the runner at 2nd. They nearly turned two because Belisle did his job and covered 1st, but they didn’t have quite enough time, and the run still scored. And … wait for it … Esmil Rogers pitched a scoreless 9th. Though I feel much less concerned seeing him coming into a game that the Rockies are winning by 10.
I liked plenty of other things I saw last night too. Dexter Fowler continued his upward swing, recording 3 hits in 5 tries. Every one of the starting position players, in fact, got at least one hit. Chris Nelson and Cuddy hit back-to-back homers in the 8th – and it was great to see Nelly come out so strong after his time on the disabled list. There was even some good baserunning: stolen bases for Rosario, Cuddy, and DJ LeMahieu, and Carlos Gonzalez would have had one if the umpire had been seeing straight.
People, we’ve got a little momentum going here. I’m almost ready to believe things might be looking up. Almost.
The Rockies hope to continue their winning streak behind Juan Nicasio this afternoon at Coors Field.