Colorado Rockies return home for a tough 10-game home stand after a 4-2 quick trip to the Southwest. After winning the series 2-1 in the desert, they traveled to the Gaslight Lamp district to narrowly escape the Friars with a 2-1 series win to end a 4-2 trip. The Rockies are now 11-5 away from Coors and 7-6 at home. They have won or tied every series against the NL West teams so far this year except for the home series against the lowly San Diego Padres. That is the key to being in first place with a 18-11 record just ahead of the Snakes (17-13). But the world knows the Dodgers will wake up sooner or later and leapfrog into first place. Colorado’s challenge is to stay ahead of Los Angeles as long as possible.
On Tuesday, Bud Black’s squad never showed up as they went 20 innings without a RBI including a 13-inning shutout to take an embarrassing 6-2 loss. The only runs scored were on a Little League play when Ian Desmond raced all the way home from first on a stolen base attempt aided by a throwing error. The other run scored on a bases loaded 20-feet dribbler. The Padres’ rally were started with a walk to the opposing pitcher that blew the game open. It was the third or fourth time this year a walk to the opposing pitcher blew the game open in favor of the bad guys. Maybe if Chuck_Nazty had played just a little better defense on the triple and double in that inning, Colorado might have escaped a bad inning.
The Rockies woke up temporarily for a night on Wednesday when pounded San Diego, 11-3. Ian Desmond knocked Jered Weaver around with a couple of home runs while Antonio Senzatela pitched very well except for the fifth inning when he threw away the double play come backer after giving up a lead-off homer. It is rumored that teammates are calling Senza “Little Prince”.
Today Ryan Hanigan, who was signed in late spring, to provide the veteran presence among the green corps of catchers, made his first appearance. He replaced Tony Wolters who was put on the 7-day concussion list. While everyone else were no-shows, Hanigan hit a solo homer in the seventh to pad the lead to 2-0. Kyle Freeland pitched a gem until the seventh when he walked the bad guy before a run-scoring double. He gave way to Gopherg after he issued yet another free pass to put runners on first and second. Gopherg struck out the pinch hitter before Mike Dunn came on for a two-pitch third out to keep the score at 2-1.
Then Otto tried to commit suicide in the eighth by walking three batters while inducing a fly ball out. BB popped out of the dugout and gave the ball to Jake McGee. He got a ground ball in which Alexi Amarista tried to start a double play, but runner beat out the throw to first to knot the game at 2-2. Then McGee got the Rockies out of a jam with a pop up to end the inning. McGee gave Otto a CPR rescue effort, yet he was tagged with the blown save.
In the eleventh, two walks and a base hit loaded up the bases with two outs for Hanigan. He had his second RBI with an infield hit for the go-ahead run to make the score 3-2. Like clockwork, Greg Holland comes on for his 12th save in 12 opportunities with two strikeouts while giving up only a two-out dribbler back to the mound base hit. Ag’s man crush, Chad Qualls, got the credit for the win by pitching the 10th inning giving up only a surprise bunt for a hit by Will Myers and a rare free pass. The Rockies ran their one-run record to 9-0 on the season which is often said to be unsustainable, but the club will take it any day of the week.
The litmus paper test over ten games begins Friday with Arizona making a return trip to Coors, followed by world champions Chicago Cubs, and then closing out the home stand with a four-game series against NL West favorites Los Angeles Dodgers. On a neutral field, the Rockies would like to win five games, but since they are at home they should aim for six games. The Dodgers and D-backs are more important than the Cubs in order to keep them down in the standings. Ideally the goal is to win 2-1 series over the Snakes, avoid a sweep against the Cubs, and at least split the series against the Dodgers.
I am forecasting a blood bath within the West division during the summer. If you haven’t noticed, all West teams have a stout closer: Giants – Mark Melancon; Padres – Brandon Maurer; Dodgers – Kenley Janssen; Rockies – Greg Holland; Arizona – Archie Bradley (my guess, but if he gets promoted watch out for Arizona). The separation will come down to the links between the starters and closers. Rockies and Dodgers have the advantage there.
Las Vegas bookies have given the Rockies better odds in many categories. The Rockies now have a 25-1 chance to win the World Series and their odds for the NL West crown improved to 5/2 from 9/1.
The key for making the dream a reality will be the rotation. Senzatela, Freeland, and German Marquez are showing promising starts to the season. When Jon Gray returns, the rotation will be that much better. That allows the club to have flexibility to make adjustments to the rotation while the so-called veterans haven’t done as well as the rookies. Looking at you Chatty and Tyler Anderson. Then there’s Jeff Hoffman who has started to heat up in Albuquerque.
On the other side of the ball, CarGo had cramps in his leg today and hopefully he will be benched for a while. He has continually been a Great Wall in the middle of the lineup which explained Colorado’s frequent offensive struggles. Trevor Story has been given a two day break while letting Alexi Amarista and Pat Valaika start in his place. Raimel Tapia has been raking in AAA and he’s ready to bump CarGo down to fourth or fifth outfielder.