This week’s record: 4-2
The Rockies weren’t quite as prolific offensively this past week as they were the week before; their .264 average is 7th in the majors. However, they led the league with 11 home runs. They also pulled off the impressive feat of scoring the 2nd-most runs in MLB (38) despite collecting the 9th-most hits (62). So the men who seem perennially unable to hit with runners in scoring position are capitalizing more than many of their fellow teams. From an individual standpoint, Jason Giambi is making a case for himself as an everyday designated hitter. It’s really a shame the Rockies can’t offer him that! This week he’s gone 7-for-16 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs. Seth Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ty Wigginton all hit over .300 this week, and Wiggy recorded 6 RBIs. Troy Tulowitzki’s week was a little rougher; batting average and on-base percentage were just .269. And my golden boy Charlie Blackmon had a terrible week. He managed only 1 hit in 17 at-bats. I may have shed a tear upon viewing those numbers. The ugly truth is that this week would not have gone as well if we hadn’t been playing American League teams. Situational hitting still needs to get better.
After playing a stellar running game last week, the Rockies forgot how to steal bases again this week. They stole 11 bases last week; this week, they only attempted 5. Twice they were caught. Blackmon was hardly ever on base, so that certainly impacted the stolen-base count. There weren’t too many egregious baserunning errors, but there wasn’t a whole lot of aggression either. It was just an okay week running-wise. Hopefully the Rockies will get a little more attitude on the basepaths this next week as they continue to own the American League Central. They play the White Sox and Royals at home, so perhaps that will help with the energy.
This week was an improvement over last week defensively. Other than Chris Nelson’s minor fielding error last night, the only game in which the Rockies struggled was Sunday’s. Actually, they just had one bad inning in that game. Brennan Boesch hit a normal base hit to right field and Seth Smith misjudged the ball completely and overran it. That allowed Boesch to get to 3rd and Don Kelly to score from 1st. A couple minutes later, new call-up Matt Pagnozzi came up with a passed ball, and Boesch scored on Rex Brothers’s missed catch error at the plate. To be fair, Brothers stuck his arm right in front of Boesch’s cleats, and unprotected skin will not win that battle. The impact caused him to drop the ball. However, Brothers has committed 2 errors in 3 chances, so his fielding is a tiny bit sloppy. Hopefully those were flukes. He had a career fielding percentage of .952 in the minor leagues, so it remains to be seen. In general, fewer errors from a team standpoint meant more wins in close games. Sunday’s would have been a loss with or without those mistakes, so defense did not affect any outcomes for the Rockies.
Starting Pitching: B-
The biggest news in the starting rotation this week is that Ubaldo Jimenez recorded 2 wins! Since he only has 3 on the season, it’s an enormously big deal for him to have 2 in one week. It was just fantastic to see him pitch well in two straight starts. On Saturday against Detroit, he wasn’t exactly dynamite, lasting just 5 innings and giving up 3 runs on 8 hits, but he only walked 2, and he got enough run support that his work was sufficient. Last night in New York, he was far better. He pitched 7 innings and gave up 2 runs on just 4 hits. He walked 4 but struck out 7. His movement, especially on his off-speed pitches, looked great. I want to see him record 6 or 7 quality starts in a row before I’ll feel totally confident about him again. But for him to do what he did last night at Yankee Stadium, an intimidating place to pitch if you’re not a Yankee and one he’d never conquered before, that makes me very happy. Jason Hammel had another tough start on Wednesday in Cleveland. In 6 innings he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits, but that wasn’t what garnered attention. It was the Balk Heard ‘Round the World. And it scored the run that ended up being the difference in the game. Better luck next week J-Ham. Jhoulys Chacin turned in another All-Star-worthy start on Tuesday, nearly no-hitting the Indians and ultimately giving up 1 run on 2 hits in 6 2/3 innings. I think Chacin is the Rockies’ first-half MVP, and you can see why here. Juan Nicasio was pretty iffy on Monday; he allowed 6 runs on 7 hits in just 4 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 6, so he’s still showing his nastiness in that way, but when hitters make contact it’s a problem. Luckily he did not take the loss because the offense came through for him. Aaron Cook recorded his second loss of the season on Sunday against Detroit, but the Tigers’ starter was Justin Verlander and the Rockies only scored one run against him, so Cook was pretty much doomed out of the gate.
Relief Pitching: B-
The bullpen made a bit of a comeback this week, or at least, Matt Lindstrom did. And he really needed a good week. He pitched 2 scoreless innings, but that’s 2 more than he had the previous week. Matt Belisle was great again, giving up just 1 hit in 2 innings pitched. Unfortunately, that 1 hit scored the tying run in Cleveland on Tuesday and cost Jhoulys Chacin the win. The runner was Rafael Betancourt’s, but Belisle couldn’t keep him from scoring. Speaking of Betancourt, he allowed 2 runs in 1 2/3 innings this week; so did Rex Brothers. So it was hit-or-miss this week. The good news is that nobody in the pen recorded a loss. In every case when they had a tough inning, either the starter had already been roughed up badly enough that he shouldered the loss, or the offense came through and kept those extra runs from making a difference. I still want to see more consistency from the relievers, especially because the offense can’t always be counted on to come through. Huston Street – 4 save opportunities, 4 saves. Best closer in baseball right now with 23 on the season.
What is it about interleague play? I don’t know. But the Rockies played in three interleague series this week and won two of them. The third, which continues in New York today, may not be a win but it won’t be a sweep. They are gaining some momentum right now that will hopefully carry them through the rest of the first half. If we reach the All-Star break within 2 or 3 games of first place, I still really like our chances in this division. 3 of the Rockies’ 4 wins this week were one-run wins, which is huge. One thing they completely failed at during their run of stink in May was winning close games. It’s essential that they win those games if they want to continue contending. It’s especially important in weeks like this one where the Rockies didn’t put together very many big innings. An area where we still need to see some improvement is hitting with runner in scoring position. If Tulo hits into one more double play with the bases loaded and one out, I am coming for him.
Overall Score: B
Hitter of the Week: Jason Giambi (.438, 2 doubles, 2 HR’s, 4 RBIs)
Pitcher of the Week: Jhoulys Chacin (1-0, 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 K’s)