The Colorado Rockies owed Jhoulys Chacin. Seriously. He had pitched well again, and yet it looked like another heartbreaking, low-scoring loss was on the horizon.
Once again the Rockies found themselves in the need of a timely hit in a game away from Coors Field. A successful moment in these situations is so rare that we tend to remember it for a longer period of time and just a little more fondly when it actually happens. We remember the moment and frankly, depending on the severity of the dry spell that leads up to it, that hitter can live on that clutch hit for a period of time.
Enter Ryan Wheeler, largely a forgotten man this season. He seemed like a promising piece to get in return for Matt Reynolds and he had some pop at positions where the Rockies were in sore need of it. He struggled in his first stint with the big league club, and once he was back with the Sky Sox he was out of sight, out of mind. But now he has returned, and as he battles with a cast of young position players for at-bats between now and the end of the assessment period of 2013, he has staked his claim to our attention.
You might think that is too much to read into one hit, but you would be wrong. The Rockies just don’t get these types of clutch hits on the road; it matters when it actually happens. So we noticed when Wheeler cracked a two out double in the 8th inning of last night’s 3-2 victory over the Marlins.
Someday the Rockies are going to have to hit and win games on the road to be taken seriously. I’m not saying, by any stretch, that Wheeler can solve that problem, but I am saying that is the context in which we can view Wheeler’s hit last night. And seriously, thank goodness this team did not waste Chacin’s spectacular start.