The Colorado Rockies owned first place in the NL west for twenty-two days in the month of April. Coming into play on Saturday the ball club is in 3rd place and one game below .500 for the month of May (3-4). Although the record is leaps and bounds above the bottom of the Majors (thank you Marlins and Astros for making my team look better), the Rockies are competing with the World Series Champions and Magic Johnson’s wallet. Let’s not forget the Fighting Gibson’s out in Arizona; they have their fair share of young hard-nosed talent too.
It is time for a turn around, but that of course is easier said than done. Friday the Rockies opened up a weekend series at the St. Louis Cardinals, and yes the Red Birds are in first place in their division. The games pitching match-up featured John Garland (3-2) versus Shelby Miller (4-2). Miller is a very promising young pitcher with a career record of 5-2 and an ERA under two in seven career starts. Of course Garland is doing what has kept him in the majors for thirteen years: pitch a lot of innings. Coming into Friday Garland had one less start than all other Rockies starters and he was only two innings behind Jorge De La Rosa for the team lead. He took that title back Friday night.
The game went as expected on the mound for Garland, though he only managed five to pitch five innings. The Cards sprayed seven hits and walked three times but could only manage three runs. The big mistake was a Carlos Beltran home run; luckily it came with the bases empty. Not a bad performance considering the clutch abilities and experience of the Cardinal lineup. Not only did Garland give the team a chance to win, but reliever Edgmer Escalona also pitched three scoreless innings to keep the Rockies in it. Believe it or not the Rockies bullpen has the second lowest ERA in the NL, behind only the Giants.
Unfortunately things also went as expected for Shelby Miller. After a lead off single by Eric Young Jr. in the first inning the twenty-one year old pitcher retired the next twenty-seven Rockies. Yes in a row. Let me say that again: After giving up a broken bat single to EY2 Shelby Miller retired the next 27 batters in a row. Thirteen of those he retired himself as strikeouts, including the last two batters of the game. In nine at-bats the Rockies 2-3-4 hitters (Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Troy Tulowitzki) struck out seven times and none of those three hit the ball past the infield.
The game only lasted two hours and thirty-six minutes. The average game time has not been under two hours and fifty minutes since 2007. That goes to show just how effective Miller pitched. His final pitch count was 113: 84 of those were strikes. Miller also threw a first pitch strike to 20 of his 28 batters faced.
Right now Miller would have my vote for NL Rookie of the Year, ahead of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. Sure I’m very excited about Arenado, but Miller was outstanding in his first career start against the Rockies. Here is where I came to this conclusion: in his three at-bats Arenado only saw eight pitches. Not good when you are trying to score runs against ace type pitching .
The series continues with two afternoon games on Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t get any easier for Rockies batters, as they will face former all-star Adam Wainwright and another young Cardinal talent in Jaimie Garcia.