Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rock Solid Recap: Rare positive baseball thoughts on a Sunday

You might want to bookmark this post, it could be a collector's edition.

For the first since April 17., the Colorado Rockies have won a Sunday baseball game!

It's true! I watched it with my own eyes.

Rockies 5, Dodgers 3 (boxscore)

Yes, they won it, but it certainly wasn't easy. The Rockies offense did a typical Sunday disappearing act from the 2nd-6th innings. In fact, the offense as a whole only collected three hits in the game. That's an on-going problem that we've dissected and thrown up in our collective shoes thinking about for five months. But at least on this day they made their hits count.

Two of them were home runs.

Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run blast in the first to start the game's scoring. (Watch)

Seth Smith then connected for a titantic 458-foot go-ahead home run in the seventh. Smith's ball landed in the second deck in right center field, above the bullpen. Not unusual to see second deck shots to straightaway right, but that's quite a poke to where Smith hit it. (Watch)

And then, Troy Tulowitzki knocked in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the 8th. An INSURANCE RUN. It was crazy.

But let me tell you this right now. This game would not have been winnable if not for the pitching performance of Kevin Millwood. Hey, I'm not thrilled with how desperate we look employing Millwood. I'm not encouraged by the number of home runs he's allowed, or how his style ultimately fits in Coors Field. But we have to be honest, he's given us three very effective and professional outings.

He has been at the high end of what you can realistically hope for a veteran starter with his track record to be. So far. That could change five days from now. Two weeks from now. Whenever. But for now I just want to recognize and appreciate three good starts that have given the Rockies every opportunity to come out victorious.

Three positives

1. Chris Nelson's defense: The Rockies have lost little defense at third base since turning the reins over to Nelson. That surprises me a little bit. Not so much because I don't believe Nelson can be a solid defender, but because Ian Stewart had set such a high standard over there with his play that I didn't think any other option could match. Nelson may not be all the way, but he's at least coming close.

2. Millwood's defense

3. The Bullpen: Solid once again. Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle played setup men in a scoreless eighth, and the white hot Rafael Betancourt closed down another one. I bet he's never pitched a better stretch of baseball in his pro career. And that on the heels of maybe his worst stretch. The life of a reliever.

Final thought

The Sunday curse is over. Now the Rockies have a chance to achieve a first in baseball this season. They can be the first team to officially eliminate an opponent from playoff contention if they win two games from the Houston Astros. Yes, the Astros are that close to be D.O.A. Think about that, then think how frustrating our season has been, and then think about the Astros fans. Those poor people.