Nolan Arenado came through with a big hit on Sunday. Image: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Sunday afternoon saw the finale of the Colorado Rockies’ first series of the second half of the season. The rubber match featured Tyler Chatwood for the Rockies (5-3) against Chicago Cubs Veteran Edwin Jackson (6-10). Chatwood pitched the first complete game of his career in his last start before the break; even though he lost, he gave up just one run in the outing. Despite a losing record the Cubs’ Jackson had won his last three starts and has thrown a no-hitter in his career.
Success would only continue for Chatwood as he pitched six innings and only gave up one earned run to win his sixth game of the year. An early lead helped the 23 year old right hander out of the gate. In the Rockies half of the first All-Stars Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer would each pick up where they left off before the break and drive in a run a piece. CarGo continued to show why he was is special, even among All-stars. The NL home run leader stole two bases, scored twice and got his batting average back up over .300.
The Rockies scored twice more in the bottom of the sixth on a Nolan Arenado single and a throwing error by Cubs super prospect Junior Lake (5-12 in his first three major league games). While the Rockies pieced together two two-run innings, scoring all four runs with two outs, the Cubs did a lot of threatening but could not piece together the winning blow. In the top of the sixth inning Chatwood started to spot his fastball higher than he wanted. After an Anthony Rizzo solo shot, the Cubs played small ball and took advantage of a Chatwood error when Darwin Barney hit a sacrifice fly.
The third and scariest run the Cubs scored came in the ninth inning off of interim closer Rex Brothers. Again it was small ball, a Starlin Castro double followed by two ground balls that raised the should have been all-star’s ERA to 1.30 and made it a 4-3 final in favor of the Rockies. Brothers was able to hold on for his fifth save of the season and needs to stay hot in the second half whether he is filling in as the closer or in the usual set up role.
So…The Rockies win the first series of the second half. Obviously a good thing, but it was the lovable losers, a team that just as easily could have been swept. A team that has been a trade deadline seller since July the 2nd and continues to be involved in trade talks that involve just about all Cubs starters over the age of 25.
Thanks to the Giants beating the Diamondbacks two out of three times, Colorado is now only 3.5 games out of first place. With the Dodgers just a half game out themselves Colorado needs to string together some positive consistency. Nobody from the NL West is in any place to earn a wild card spot (thanks to the NL central) making the chase for a division title that much more intense.