I don’t know if this win totally washed out the image of Tuesday’s blowout loss, but it was definitely a dose of payback. On Tuesday night, the Chicago White Sox scored six runs in the eighth inning en route to a 15-3 win over the Colorado Rockies. Yesterday, it was the D.J. LeMahieu led Rockies who had the huge eighth inning, as they scored six in the eighth, busting open a tie game. Before we get to the six run inning, which was nice in that it was the product of small ball and not home runs, let’s first talk about the beginning of the game.
The Rockies jumped on top in the bottom of the first with a sequence that is quickly becoming familiar: leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon gets on base (this time with a triple) and two-hole hitter Michael Cuddyer drives him in. There was much debate about who should hit leadoff, and where Cuddyer should hit. It looks as if Walt Weiss has gotten this right, because the two have combined to drive in 18 runs, score 17, hit .440, and get on base at a .469 clip. This is the reason that the Rockies lead baseball in runs, average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. It’s vital to start off the game well, and the Rockies did it again yesterday. But they soon lost their lead, as the bottom of the White Sox order against hurt a Colorado pitcher, this time Juan Nicasio. Nicasio, who wasn’t great in this game but kept the Rockies in it, gave up two fairly cheap runs in the second inning. Avisail Garcia walked, and then three of the next four hitters singled, bringing in two runs. The score was 2-1.
After the Rockies re-took a 3-2 lead with more Charlie Blackmon and more Carlos Gonzalez, Nicasio gave up the lead again in the fifth, as he gave up three more singles (including a second infield single) and two more runs, leading to the end of his day. This was by no means a great start for Nicasio, who had a tremendous first start. But it was by no means a terrible start. Although Nicasio gave up eight hits and four runs, he gave up just one extra base hit, and it actually looked as if he had good stuff throughout most of the start. I would say that he got a little unlucky, and was still able to keep the Rockies in the game. That’s really all we can ask for in an environment as unfriendly to pitchers as Coors Field. Sure enough, the Rockies’ dynamic offense and good (Yesterday) bullpen bailed Nicasio out.
D.J. LeMahieu drove in his first run in the bottom of the sixth with a huge two-out double, bringing in Justin Morneau, who quietly has started the season very well. After Nolan Arenado and Charlie Culberson had failed to bring Morneau home from third with zero and one out, respectively, it looked like the leadoff double had been wasted, so LeMahieu’s double was huge. It also tied the game.
The explosion came after a quiet seventh inning. After a Culberson bunt (by the way, I didn’t agree with the bunt. I rarely do, and I don’t think what came after changed the fact that bunting probably lowered the chance at scoring runs. I’d say that the Rockies scored six in spite of the bunt, not because of it), the Rockies had second and third with one out and D.J. LeMahieu at the plate. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for LeMahieu there. We all know that he isn’t a great hitter, and I figured that he had already made his offensive contribution for the day. I was actually silently hoping that the Rockies would pinch hit for him with newly promoted Josh Rutledge. Rutledge ended up with a pinch single, but that came after LeMahieu crucially singled home both runners, giving the Rockies a 6-4 lead. Then, they busted the game open. Four more hits followed LeMahieu’s go-ahead single, including the knockout punch, a two RBI double by CarGo. The amazing thing about the sixth run eighth is that Gonzalez’s double was the only extra base hit in the inning. An inning with six singles doesn’t happen too often, but it happened yesterday, even with Troy Tulowitzki out of the lineup.
I was glad to see that the bullpen shut down the Sox, especially after the catastrophe that happened on Tuesday, which was bad enough to lead to the demotion of Wilton Lopez to AAA. It looks to me as if this bullpen has a clear hierarchy. Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins, and perhaps Boone Logan are the relievers Walt Weiss trusts. Matt Belisle is the veteran presence, Tommy Kahnle is the Rule Five pick with the jury still out, and Chad Bettis is the long reliever. It’s not a bad bullpen, but it did just get crushed by the White Sox on Tuesday, so I don’t know what to make of it.
Anyway, I got off track a little bit. The 10-4 win was a great way to move past Tuesday night’s disaster, and it was nice to see a 16 hit explosion that included 12 singles. After a day off today, the Rockies will look to move above .500 on Friday, as they travel to San Francisco to face the Giants. It’ll be a tough game, as the Giants are starting Madison Bumgarner, but it’s a winnable one, as the Rockies usually hit Bumgarner pretty well. I remember a few homers for Carlos Gonzalez in particular against Bumgarner. Jorge De La Rosa will get his third start and a chance to move past his first two rocky starts.