Wilin Rosario blasts key home run, Rockies defeat the Phillies


Wilin Rosario was due.

One of a number of hitters on the Rockies’ roster who is prone to prolonged hot and cold streaks, Rosario was 0-for-his-last-15 when he strode to the plate to face Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels in the 7th inning of Tuesday night’s contest at Citizens Bank Park.

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Given the style of pitching Hamels employs, in particular his ability to get hitters out on their front foot and keep them off balance with off-speed offerings, one could easily imagine this confrontation going the pitcher’s way in a moment when the Colorado Rockies desperately needed a clutch hit on offense.

Despite that slump and a potentially tough match-up, Rosario came through and blasted a three-run home run. That would prove to be the difference, with some runs tacked on later on, in a 6-2 Rockies victory.

It was interesting to see how Hamels pitched to Rosario last night. Armed with a cut fastball and a gnarly change-up, Hamels showed Rosario five four-seam fastballs over the course of his three at-bats (out of nine pitches total, per the PITCHf/x data on TexasLeaguers.com). To the surprise of nobody who has watched Rosario hit ever, the Bull fired at four of those five fastballs.

graph from TexasLeaguers.com

You would think that Hamels would want to stay away from his fastball against Rosario. While it is true that Hamels likes to work ahead and throw strike one, as esteemed Rockies blogger/tweeter Chris Chrisman notes, you would figure that the veteran starter would also know the scouting report on Rosario.

He was only going to get away with so many fastballs, certainly those up in the zone. Rosario missed a pitch to handle in the at-bat prior, resulting in a foul pop-up to the catcher Carlos Ruiz. He got another pitch to handle in the 7th inning and he did not miss it.

The Starting Pitcher

Jorge De La Rosa was stellar once again for the Rockies. His slow start to the 2014 season seems a distant memory. He did flirt with disaster in this one, loading the bases with nobody out in the third inning. After brilliant pitches to Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins to induce a weak ground ball and a weak infield flare for the first two outs, respectively, he got lucky on a mistake to Chase Utley. The Phillies’ second baseman sent a shot to the warning track, only to have Carlos Gonzalez camp under it and make the catch.

After the third inning De La Rosa did not need much more luck. His final line in this one: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 3 BB. He did not wipe out the Phillies, but he battled after a rough inning early and gave the Rockies exactly what they needed.

The Manager

Walt Weiss got a little too match-up focused for me when he pinch-hit for Corey Dickerson with Brandon Barnes in the top of the 8th inning. I suppose you could argue that you counter the move by Ryne Sandberg (bringing in a lefty to face Dickerson) with a right-handed bat while also putting in a better defender (Barnes) to protect the lead in the final innings. With all of that said, in my mind it just does not compute to pinch-hit for Dickerson anytime he’s up, no matter if the pitcher is right-handed or left-handed.

As far as bullpen management goes, I believe we saw Weiss’s ideal plan for the late innings as things stand right now. Boone Logan in the 7th, Adam Ottavino in the 8th, and LaTroy Hawkins in the 9th inning. That will inevitably change when LaTroy’s luck runs out, but for now that is the plan and it worked in Tuesday’s win.

What’s Next

Rubber match Wednesday night with Jordan Lyles on the mound for the Rockies (28-24) opposite Roberto Hernandez, who is pitching in the rotation slot normally occupied by Cliff Lee.