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You can’t win ’em all.
The Colorado Rockies dropped game two of a three game series with the Giants 5-4 on Saturday night in 11 innings. Brooks Brown couldn’t work around a lead-off walk to Nori Aoki in the top of the 11th and the Rockies offense couldn’t muster a rally in the bottom half, allowing the Giants to win their first game against Colorado in five chances in 2015.
A baseball fan, with no rooting interest on the field, would have loved the game on Saturday. It was well played. Both starting pitchers did a great job. The defense was very good, with both teams making outstanding plays in the field. The offenses both battled. It was an all-around really good baseball game.
Rockies fans, however, had to go home disappointed.
Jorge De La Rosa, making his second start of the season, was back to the form that has earned him the title of team ace. He was working both sides of the plate, and most importantly, he was able to use his changeup to keep the Giants batters off balance.
When De La Rosa is on, which he is the majority of the time, he is mixing his changeup in to get outs. His first start on Tuesday night, he wasn’t able to get to the changeup because he was behind in the count too often. On Saturday he was able to get things going again. He was ahead in the counts and was able to be in control, throwing the pitches that he wanted to instead of having to rely on his fastball.
De La Rosa went five innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He struck out seven and walked two, both of which came in the 5th inning when he was reaching the top of his pitch count.
It is easy to forget that De La Rosa is still rebuilding arm strength. He dealt with a groin injury throughout March and didn’t really get a chance to get his spring work in. After two starts in the minor leagues to rehab, he was brought back to the starting rotation. It generally takes a starter three to four weeks to get stretched out. De La Rosa was at about 12 days when he made his way back from the disabled list.
As the Rockies ace continues to build arm strength, fans can look forward to two additional innings of De La Rosa doing what he did on Saturday. That alone may have helped the Rockies to victory.
De La Rosa looked good, but he wasn’t the only one. After a prolonged slump, which included a 0-for-16 streak, Carlos Gonzalez looks like he is getting his swing back. On Friday he recorded two hits, but on Saturday he looked like the slugger who the Rockies are depending on him to be. He drilled a no-doubt home run in the 6th inning off of Tim Hudson. The ball landed in the pond area in dead center field and cut through a stiff breeze in to home plate.
When Gonzalez can stay back on the ball instead of getting his weight way out front, he is able to hit the ball as hard as anyone. He can also drive pitches to the opposite field with authority. He has one of the best swings in the game, but it is hard to argue the fact that he is extremely streaky. It would be very beneficial for the Rockies if CarGo can get hot during the middle of the current stretch against the National League West.
The Rockies also got a long home run from Troy Tulowitzki and two more hits from Justin Morneau. The Rockies first baseman is showing signs of coming out of a slump himself. If the Rockies can get Morneau and CarGo rolling at the same time, the offense could be very dangerous. Combine that with Tulowitzki, who is having a great season already and there isn’t a pitcher in the league who would be excited to see the Rockies lineup.
The issue for the Rockies on Saturday, which ultimately cost them the game, was the bullpen allowing so many base runners. In every inning starting with the 6th, the Rockies allowed each leadoff batter to reach base. In the 9th, 10th and 11th innings, the leadoff batter for the Giants reached via a walk.
It was only a matter of time before it would burn the Rockies. The 11th inning was when it finally cost the Rockies. Aoki ended up scoring on a suicide squeeze and the winning streak against the Giants was over.
No loss is a good loss. However, fans shouldn’t be disappointed with the way their team is playing. The Rockies still sit two games above .500 and are matching the World Champions nearly pitch-for-pitch. They have gone through a tough stretch, but they bounced back from it.
There is still a long way to go before the Rockies truly can say that they are contenders, but it looks like they are headed in the right direction. Fans should be excited about that.