Can we all just pretend that Thursday game with the Giants didn’t exist? Because that would make this just a regular, run-of-the-mill three-game series. That the Rockies swept. Which would be awesome.
With the National League West being what it is this season, which is to say featuring no visible frontrunners, there is really no better time for the Rockies to step into the vacuum and make a run. Obviously it’s only May, and there are still plenty of games to go, so I could be hanging my head and accepting defeat yet again come August. But there is a lack of serious obstacles in the Rockies’ way this year. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Of course, we will also have to continue to see performances like Juan Nicasio‘s yesterday. After a less than stellar start to the season, Nicasio was brilliant, going 6 innings and allowing only 3 hits while fanning 5. The key to his success was keeping the ball down, as it always is at Coors. Only two Giants managed to get the ball out of the infield during his entire outing. Also, I think it’s wise for Yorvit Torrealba to be calling Nicasio’s games for now. Of course we want Wilin Rosario in the lineup as often as possible, but he has a ways to go before he will be the kind of veteran catcher our young pitchers need, and Torrealba has the requisite experience. A solid outing starts with the guy behind the dish calling the right pitches, and Torrealba deserves recognition for Nicasio’s accomplishment yesterday.
Offensively, there were a few too many runners left on base for my taste, and I always cringe when an inning ends with the bases loaded – because how often does that not come back to haunt us? Rarely. Still, there were some good clutch hitting performances. Eric Young led off the bottom of the 1st with a single, then stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch. Carlos Gonzalez singled him home. That’s the kind of aggressive, heads-up play we need early in the game, especially when the opposing pitcher is Barry Zito. When we don’t hit off Zito early, we don’t hit off him at all.
It wasn’t till the 5th inning that the Rockies got anything going again, but Cargo and Jordan Pacheco each managed to drive in a run in that inning. There would have been more if not for Troy Tulowitzki catching a tough break in between those two. He attempted a bunt that rolled foul (Cargo did the same later in the game, but the element of surprise they were apparently going for only works if you can aim a bunt properly), then took a curveball and fouled off a fastball. Then Zito threw a cutter that finished much higher than Tulo thought it would, and he swung right through.
Luckily, once Zito was out of the game, Tulo figured out how to hit again, lining a Jose Mijares pitch into left center for a 2-run single. That would be more than enough for the win. Good thing, too, because the defense is still not what it needs to be. Despite a very fine diving stop, Josh Rutledge let another ball roll right through his legs. Jonathan Herrera airmailed a throw to 1st for his third error in 12 games. Still, when you have a pitching performance like Nicasio’s, all these other things seem not to matter as much. When they will matter is in those postseason games the Rockies will hopefully appear in. That they can get there, I’m starting to believe. That they can perform once there, that’s yet to be determined.