The Eleventh Time is a Charm


The Rockies had lost the last 10 match-ups to the division rival San Francisco Giants. Before Friday night the last time the Rockies beat the Giants was September 10, 2012.

So Rockies fans, which is more frustrating: the Giants dominance over the Rockies or their two World Series titles since 2010?

Well the Fall Classic happens once a year, and if the Rockies are out (which is usually the case) you can always just watch the Broncos. So I prefer to see the Rockies be competitive against a the team that has risen to the top of baseball over the last few years. Friday night was very entertaining for those who want to see the Goliaths, sorry I mean the Giants fall.

Finally a reason for the Rockies to smile. Image: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Of course the Giants had an all-star caliber pitcher on the mound in Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner came into the game with a 4-1 record and on a hot streak. In his last start the 23 year old went seven innings, gave up just one run and struck out 11 against the Atlanta Braves. His opposite number was Jorge De La Rosa, who had a 4-3 record coming into the game and came in just as hot. De La Rosa did not allow a hit until the seventh inning in his last outing, perhaps being motivated by the Cardinals shutting down the Rockies hitters.

Enter Coors Field. Unless your name is Hideo Nomo you will not have sustained success here. All you need to do is ask Mike Hampton, Denny Neagle, or Ubaldo Jimenez. A big thorn in my side as a Rockies fan is the fact that Jimenez’s no-hitter did not take place in Denver. Naturally the two teams combined for 19 runs on Friday night.

The important thing for Colorado’s pitching is that De La Rosa did not get roughed up as badly as you might think. In five innings he gave up five runs on nine hits and one walk. Of those nine hits seven, yes seven, were singles. The Giants have not had a giant offense during their recent successes, but this season they are ranked in the top five in most offensive categories in the NL. That includes being ranked first in hits, and second in runs and runs per game only to the Rockies. Even though it was not a good start for De La Rosa, traditionally speaking, he did keep the Rockies in the game and gave them a chance to win.

The Rockies offense was helped by four Giants errors which led to two unearned runs. But you cannot argue with two hits a piece from the heart of the order: Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitski, and Wilin Rosario. Those three also drove in four and scored five of the Rockies’ 10 runs. But it was a 10 run performance, and when the team has a a big game like that an individual usually had just as big a night. Friday it was second year player Jordan Pacheco.

In the bottom of the fourth inning with one out and  two runners on, Rosario had tied the game up at five a side. That was followed by a Nolan Arenado strikeout and a DJ LeMahieu walk to load the bases. Then Pacheco strode to the plate. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy had the confidence in Bumgarner to get one more out, and even in hindsight that was probably the right call at the time. The first pitch that Pacheco saw landed 415 feet away and the Rockies took a 9-5 lead. It was Pacheco’s first career grand slam and the blow that gave the Rockies the cushion needed to beat the relentless Giants.

The Rockies bullpen has come into a rough spot, but that might just be the law of averages coming through. Edgmer Escalona did give up three earned runs, but it was his first earned runs allowed since April 20th. Rex Brothers lowered his ERA to 0.49 with another scoreless inning, while Matt Belisle gave up a solo shot to Buster Posey. Belisle cannot really be blamed for that, as in about ten years Rockies fans will talk about Posey with the same respect as Rockies killers Mike Piazza and Barry Bonds. Closer Rafael Betancourt stayed perfect with his 10th save in 10 chances, ranked sixth in the NL. Rockies win 10-9.

Friday was by no means an ideal game but it was a much needed win against a quality opponent and division rival. Colorado is now two games behind San Francisco and Arizona, who are tied for first place.