The Colorado Rockies snapped their five game losing streak on Saturday by defeating the Washington Nationals by a final score of 7-1. Jhoulys Chacin led the way on the mound, going seven shutout innings. Corey Dickerson, making his Major League debut, provided a spark on the offensive side of the ball with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
Baseball is and always will be a team game. For any individual contest there will be a number of wrinkles, moments, and nuances that going into explaining the final result. It rarely comes down to one or two players, because to attribute it as such is to oversimplify a complicated game. Having said that, the individual performances of Chacin and Dickerson go a long way towards explaining how the team snapped out of their funk on Saturday.
Desperation followed the Rockies onto the field for the first pitch on Saturday thanks to their decision to wear their batting practice jerseys in regular season play. That single act of superstition clearly indicated that the losing streak, in which they had scored only seven runs in five games, weighed heavy on their minds. It seems harmless and charming after a victory, but it would have been an altogether depressing footnote to the game if it had not worked out.
While it is impossible to know what goes through the minds of individual players, it seemed like a key component of this victory for the Rockies was jumping out to an early lead. DJ LeMahieu‘s first inning home run off Washington starter Dan Haren, followed by a rally that included RBI’s from Michael Cuddyer and Dickerson, took some of the pressure off early. If the offense had sputtered yet again, one imagines that the hand-wringing and the pressing ways of the previous five games would have emerged.
There was a certain freedom created by that rally, perhaps best characterized by the excitement of Dickerson’s arrival. Dickerson would add another double later and even Jhoulys Chacin would drive in a run with a single. It just felt like the successful debut of a young prospect got the ball rolling for this lineup to finally produce some runs.
After that it was all about Chacin. In his last start he was ridiculously efficient, needing only 86 pitches to go 8.2 innings. Today he used only 94 pitches to complete his seven innings. There has always been a big “what if” question following the young right-handed starter: what if he consistently commands his fastball? Well, for his last two starts he has provided the answer. If he commands his fastball, Chacin has wipeout stuff and can pitch like a staff ace.
If the Rockies can manage to stay relevant in the National League West it will be because of their starting pitching enjoying sustained success. In order for that happen Chacin, along with his buddy Jorge De La Rosa, must be reliable at the top of the rotation. If his last two starts are any indication, Chacin is finally up to the task.