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It might be time to pinch your fellow Colorado Rockies fan.
There have only been four games in the 2015 season, but the Rockies, with their 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday, remain undefeated. For a team that was on pace to lose 100 games at one point in 2014, a four game winning streak to start the season is certain to get the disgruntled fans excited.
Everyone who follows the Rockies knows one thing. The club needs their stars to perform in order to reach their potential. That happened on Friday. In the 5th inning, with the game knotted up at one, Troy Tulowitzki came to the plate with the bases loaded. On a one-strike count, Tulo tomahawked a cutter riding in on his hands. He drilled it down the left field line to score two runs and give the Rockies a 3-1 lead.
With a lefty on the mound, Justin Morneau started the day on the bench. When Cubs starter Travis Wood was removed from the game, Morneau came in the game to play defense. He led off the 6th inning, and did what the Rockies need him to do. He smacked a fastball to the opposite field, giving it just enough to get over the fence.
On the mound Rockies starter Tyler Matzek was far from good. He struggled to find his command. In most cases, he was behind in the count. In the 2nd inning he even threw a pitch behind Cubs batter Wellington Castro. It was clear that either Matzek was over-amped or he simply couldn’t locate his pitches.
However, the mark of a good pitcher is being able to limit damage. Matzek was able to work out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the 3rd inning by giving up just one run. He was only able to pitch into the 5th inning, but a starters job is to pitch well enough to allow his offense a chance to win the game. Despite only going four-plus innings, Matzek didn’t allow the game to get out of hand.
In the four games that the Rockies have played in the young 2015 season, one aspect of the team that has largely been ignored is the bullpen. The Rockies pen has been great. On Friday they picked up five scoreless innings. They combined to pitch five innings on Wednesday night in Milwaukee with the only blemish coming from LaTroy Hawkins bumpy 9th inning.
The bullpen has pitched 15 innings so far in 2015 and has given up just two runs. That type of work, even through just four games, is a huge positive for a club that may have fielded the worst bullpen in the National League a year ago.
Rockies fans are in one of two boats. Either they are completely skeptical of the hot start or they are giddy with over-excitement.
The reality is, either reaction is just fine. It is too early to make any true judgments about this team. For fans, the mark of good April baseball is simply to enjoy the ride. There is no reason to think about how bad things might get as the season progresses. There is no reason to dwell on the issues that this team must still overcome. For fans, the idea should be to simply enjoy the wins as they come. There will be plenty of time for this team to show who they are.
One interesting aspect on Friday was the lineup. For the first time in Rockies history, the team had the pitcher in the 8-hole in the lineup. Manager Walt Weiss slotted DJ LeMahieu in the 9-hole. At the top of the lineup the Rockies had Corey Dickerson leading off, followed by Troy Tulowitzki in the 2-hole, a spot he hasn’t hit in since his rookie season in 2007.
The lineup is a sign of how different things will be with the reins off of Weiss. It is clear that the previous regime had their finger prints on everything that Weiss did. He has already shown some different ideas with the lineup. If it works and Troy Tulowitzki gets an extra at-bat every game, it could certainly help the Rockies win a few more games. If nothing else, it is a different type of mindset that is much needed in this Rockies franchise.
It is only four games, but after the passed seasons, a 4-0 start may have even the most skeptical, cynical Rockies fans not believing that this is true.
At some point, the Rockies may certainly have their struggles, but fans don’t need to worry about that, they should just enjoy the wins.