Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
This game wasn’t like the game on Friday night. On Friday, everything clicked. The hitting clicked, and the pitching also clicked. The result was a blowout win. Yesterday was different, but in a way, it was better. The first three innings were poor. Jorge De La Rosa again struggled, and again couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. It took him half an hour and (gulp) 42 pitches to get through a first inning in which he walked two, gave up an RBI double, and went five pitches or more on each of the six hitters in the inning. I think everyone knew after that first inning that it would be a long day for the pitcher who was touted as the ace of a much improved rotation. De La Rosa ended up giving up three more runs in the next two innings, with a Mark Trumbo homer to right reminding us that, while the Rockies have a lot of power, they don’t have a single hitter with the monster power that the former Los Angeles Angel has. That could turn out to be a problem. Anyway, I should stop being negative, because De La Rosa was probably the only bad thing that happened yesterday.
After those first three innings in which the Rockies went down 4-0, they started scoring, and didn’t start. There wasn’t one huge inning, but they scored a run in every inning from the fourth on. I like it that way. Sometimes, after you have a big inning, there’s a letdown, and you don’t score another for the rest of the game. In scoring every inning, the Rockies demoralized the Diamondbacks, who have struggled all year. They also made De La Rosa’s poor start a moot point. On a day in which Troy Tulowitzki was given a rest, the role players stepped it up in a big way. Charlie Blackmon, a fan favorite, tied a two game Rockies record with his ninth hit in two games. He’s now hitting .600. DJ LeMahieu, who is off to a slow start offensively, singled and then made a heads-up baserunning play, scoring from first on a Carlos Gonzalez single with Gerardo Parra fielding the ball sluggishly in right field. Justin Morneau and Jordan Pacheco also hit key doubles in the eighth inning. But the biggest game came from none other than my favorite, Nolan Arenado. I’ve said before that I think Arenado has the potential to be the best all around third baseman in the National League. He’s kind of like a less-talked about Manny Machado in that his defense is already among the best, and he just needs to develop his offense to become an elite third baseman. Well, yesterday, his offense looked pretty good. Although he started the season pretty poorly with his bat, it looked like he was seeing the ball well yesterday. He homered twice, including a 421 foot shot to center field that cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth inning. After another solo homer in the sixth inning, Arenado added an RBI double in the eighth. I know this is turning into yet another Nolan Arenado appreciation post, but I can’t help it. The Rockies need to lock this guy up long term as has happened around the league recently, because I think he’s as likely to join CarGo and Tulo as cornerstones as anyone else. I also feel a need to talk about Nolan Arenado because he really doesn’t get enough appreciation among baseball. It might be because he wasn’t a highly esteemed prospect like Machado, or it might be because he is playing out West and had an average offensive season last year. I probably shouldn’t worry about Nolan Arenado’s league-wide recognition, because if you really believe that he’s going to be a star, as I do, then the recognition will come with the stardom. I’m definitely counting down the days.
De La Rosa’s start wasn’t good, but what came after it pitching-wise was very encouraging. The bullpen, again given the task of pitching more than half the game, which has happened too often in the past, didn’t give up a run. Tommy Kahnle, who earned his first career win, had another encouraging appearance, and what followed was just as good. Adam Ottavino, in particular, looks as if he has taken the next step. Last year, Ottavino showed glimpses, but generally allowed too many walks and baserunners. His appearances made for some nail biting innings That hasn’t been so in his first three appearances this year. Ottavino already has two holds (he had eight all of last season), and he’s struck out an impressive eight of the 11 batters he’s faced. He generally looks like a better pitcher, and he could be the X-factor for the bullpen. If he continues to pitch like this, the bullpen might be pretty decent.
This was a generally refreshing result, because the Rockies showed that they can win games even when their starters don’t pitch well, and even when they don’t get a huge amount of production from their stars. The bullpen and the role players were the stars of this game, and if the Rockies can get a lot of production out of their secondary players this year, they could be pretty solid. The Rockies look to complete the sweep of the struggling Diamondbacks today, with Brett Anderson searching for his first win against Wade Miley (1-1).