Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rock Solid Recap: New faces produce different results in tough road win

Rockies 6, Pirates 4 (boxscore)

These are exactly the types of games the Colorado Rockies need to win if they plan on winning their first NL West championship. Not just because tonight's game specifically was a nip and tuck, roller coaster type of affair, but because they lost a similar game last night. Often times in the past those types of losses have led to extended struggles, especially away from Coors Field.

You already knew that. What a waste of a paragraph.

We begin with the story of the night: Greg Reynolds.

Reynolds isn't really a "new face" but he's new to giving the Rockies positive results. That counts.

Me on Reynolds seven hours ago:

"I'm willing to give him another chance. I mean what else can I do? He's going out there. I want the Rockies to win, so I'm hoping tonight's the night he finally impresses."

He impressed. Not to the point where I'm going to beg for him to stick in the rotation when Ubaldo Jimenez returns, but credit goes where it's deserved. He did himself proud. I was crossing my fingers and hoping for five decent innings. He gave Colorado six STRONG innings. Hats off to that.

He still doesn't have that putaway pitch, but if the sinker is working as it was this evening, and if the umpire is giving the low strike, Reynolds can be more than credible. Thankfully those factors came together and things worked out.

-- While Reynolds was a hero on the mound, no doubt Ty Wigginton was the man on offense. His two-out, bases clearing double past a diving Pedro Alvarez was as clutch as it gets for Colorado on the road. He's just the type of professional hitter they need, along with Jonathan Herrera, in the lineup to support Gonzalez and Tulowitzki. Just a fantastic piece of hitting.

-- Matt Lindstrom earned his first save in Rockies uniform with Huston Street unavailable after his incredible three innings last night. I wouldn't say it was smooth. Pittsburgh timed his fastball pretty well, hitting two on the screws to center. One dropped for a hit, one was flagged down by Fowler. After a Jason Jaramillo bloop hit, Lindstrom made a big pitch inducing a game-ending double play from Steven Pearce.

-- And not to be overlooked, Seth Smith hit a very important home run that momentarily put Reynolds in position to win this game.

-- Excellent win tonight. Really good chance to steal a the first road series tomorrow with Jhoulys Chacin on the hill.

Lineup Card: 4-9-11 Rockies @ Pirates

If you're looking for Rockies game lineups and you don't feel like searching all over Twitter or waiting for to post them, check back to Heaven & Helton about 60-90 minutes before first pitch and they should be here waiting for you.

Greg Reynolds gets the call tonight in place of Ubaldo Jimenez. What to expect from Reynolds? I have no idea. I just know the Rockies need Reynolds to get eat innings after last night's 14 inning marathon, and I know he's flopped every time the Rockies have given him a chance in the bigs or in the spring.

I'm willing to give him another chance. I mean what else can I do? He's going out there. I want the Rockies to win, so I'm hoping tonight's the night he finally impresses.

Colorado Rockies (4-2)
  1. CF Dexter Fowler
  2. 2B Jonathan Herrera
  3. LF Carlos Gonzalez
  4. SS Troy Tulowitzki
  5. RF Seth Smith
  6. 3B Jose Lopez
  7. 1B Ty Wigginton
  8. C   Jose Morales
  9. P   Greg Reynolds
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-3)
  1. LF Jose Tabata
  2. 2B Neil Walker
  3. CF Andrew McCutchen
  4. 1B Lyle Overbay
  5. 3B Pedro Alvarez
  6. C   Ryan Doumit
  7. RF Garrett Jones
  8. SS Josh Rodriguez
  9. P   Charlie Morton

Rock Solid Recrap: Rockies go cold in frigid Pittsburgh

Pirates 4, Rockies 3 (14) (boxscore)

Where do we begin tonight?

-- Well, how about with the lack of a clutch hit or timely contact. After Jason Giambi crushed a three-run first inning homer, the offense couldn't muster one single run. They had several chances, but when they needed to move a guy 90 feet, they couldn't get a baseball in play. When they needed a hit, it always found a Pittsburgh glove.

-- Carlos Gonzalez finished the night 0-for-7. That will never happen again in his career. Troy Tulowitzki finished 0-for-4 (three walks), but didn't see a lot to hit after Jason Giambi the game early for a pinch-runner.

-- Jorge De La Rosa was cruising right along for three innings until, once again, a blister problem popped up, altering his command and ending his night early. One has to assume he'll be pushed back a couple days this time as he deals with the reoccurring issues.

-- Dexter Fowler was caught wandering off first base after delivering a one out basehit in 11th. What should have been 1st and 3rd with one out quickly and senselessly became runner on 3rd with two outs.

-- Franklin Morales suffered another meltdown at a bad time for the Rockies. After retiring Jason Jaramillo, Morales forced Ronny Cedeno to pop up on the infield. Morales called for the ball, which no pitcher should ever do, and collided with Ty Wigginton. Morales caught the ball on the rebound, but was clearly rattled, walking Josh Rodriguez on four pitches.

After going 3-1 on Jose Tabata, Morales laid a fastball on a tee that Tabata bounced off the right field wall for the walk-off win.

-- It was also a bad night for manager Jim Tracy. Tracy removed Jason Giambi, who filled in last minute for the injured Todd Helton, for pinch-runner Ian Stewart in 6th. Stewart entered the game with the flu, and unfortunately only lasted three innings. It was clear Tracy wanted to improve the team's defense protecting a one run lead, which is smart, but with the circumstances surrounding Stewart's health, he left himself with no flexibility later in the game.

He probably should have gone to Lopez there and kept Ian for a pinch-hit attempt later on.

I also wasn't a fan of using Huston Street three innings. Low pitch count aside, it's April, and it's your closer that's spent time each of the last two seasons on the DL. Makes me nervous.

And finally, there are some in Pittsburgh who believe Clint Hurdle duped Tracy into pitching to Jose Tabata in the 14th by having Andrew McCutchen stand in the on deck circle one batter before his turn. The next due batter was actually the pitcher's spot currently occupied by Garrett Olson.

To me this sounds like a group of writers out to make Jim Tracy look stupid after his failed run in Pittsburgh. That said, there's little doubt who the better manager was on Friday night. It was the guy we used to have, not the guy we have now.