As our friend Chris Chrisman points out, last night was the Rockies’ first shut-out of the season. Did you really think it would come on the road, and against the D-backs? I didn’t. And I didn’t think the guy who threw most of it would be Christian Friedrich.
So what’s going right? Why do the Rockies keep winning, and when will it stop?
For starters, the starters. The rotation has been exponentially better this past week, with the exception of Juan Nicasio on Saturday, who had a bad, and short, outing. It’s no coincidence that that was also the only game the Rockies have lost in a week and a half. The number of runs the starting pitcher has allowed has been gradually declining since the team left Cincinnati. This is absolutely crucial. I don’t believe it’s possible to overstate the importance of the rotation’s continued performance. Coming into this season, that was the biggest mess on the team, and day after day it has taken the team out of games and made it nearly impossible to win. The only shot we have is for these guys to pull it together and keep on turning out quality starts. Young guys like Friedrich and Alex White simply must step up and deliver.
Speaking of Friedrich, though, he was an absolute beast last night. He went 7 solid innings, gave up just 4 hits, and didn’t allow a single run to cross the plate. It was a stunning performance for the rookie. Perhaps most encouraging was the way he stayed poised and focused when he did allow baserunners. Things got ugly almost immediately when Friedrich loaded the bases in the 1st inning and then got behind in the count to Jason Kubel. But he stayed with it and got a flyout to end the inning. In the 6th, Aaron Hill hit a lead-off double, and Friedrich didn’t miss a beat, setting the heart of the order down 1-2-3. It was a confident, professional outing for a guy who really needed one. Now of course, we’re all still worried that he’ll flounder upon return to Coors Field, especially facing a lineup like the Angels will be bringing to town. But let’s celebrate the little things, and trust that he can to learn to make the necessary adjustments to be just as successful at home.
Of course, a little defense and a little offense are necessary to a win as well, and those are the other things that have shown marked improvement in the past week. Dexter Fowler made a highlight reel catch in center last night to rob Hill of an extra-base hit. No doubt that gave Friedrich extra confidence to get out of that 1st inning. When you know your defense has your back, it makes a difference. And the offense turned up too. Every starter but Friedrich recorded at least one hit. Every little bit counts, as we saw in the 2nd inning when Jordan Pacheco, Wilin Rosario, and DJ LeMahieu hit back-to-back-to-back singles. With Friedrich up at the plate, an automatic out if ever there was one, a passed ball allowed Pacheco to score. GET ON BASE MEN. It’s the only way to take advantage of every opportunity. Rosario, of course, gets the gold start for the night, for crushing a solo home run to right field.
I so desperately hope we’ve finally got some real momentum going here. Again, the pitchers have to keep up their good work. If they start to fall apart again, we’re back where we started from.
Jeremy Guthrie, whom we like very much on the road, will be on the mound today as the D-backs series continues.