Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rock Solid Recap: One great outing and one big swing

The wonderful thing about great pitching and great defense? It affords a struggling offense the opportunity to slowly get itself back on track, while still winning baseball games. That's where the Rockies stand right now. They are pitching the hell out of the ball day in and day out, and the defense has been legit.

I mean seriously, what the hell has gotten into Seth Smith? He was a decent defender in previous years. He has been outstanding in 2011. Ryan Spilborghs can't even in the game as a defensive replacement anymore.

Anyway, you still need the one or two big hits (or a couple breaks) every night to make that pitching and defense stand up. The Rockies didn't get it last night. They did get it tonight.

Rockies 4, Pirates 1 (boxscore)

And they got it off the bat of Chris Iannetta, who thankfully decided to offer at a 3-1 pitch from Paul Maholm that was begging to be hit a long ways.

What has frustrated so many Rockies fans with Iannetta has been his unwillingness to let it fly. Too much patience. Sure the walks are great from your #8 hitter. They mean something when you can turn your lineup over. I get that. But Iannetta isn't your typical #8. He's not Ronny Cedeno or Jamey Carroll. He's a masher. He's an extra basehit machine when he's going.

So it was nice to see him open up in that spot. It was a game-changer, and ultimately a game-winner. Now hopefully he allows himself to be a game-changer more often.

-- Is it just me or was Jason Hammel at his very best tonight? It seemed like he made every pitch he needed to make when his back was against the wall. He racked up three big double plays. The only guy that beat him was Andrew McCutchen, and in case you haven't heard, Andrew McCutchen beats everybody.

Yeah, that sounds pretty good. And so what if Hammel needs his defense to play well? There's no shame in that. Just keep backing him with your best defense, Mr. Tracy, and Jason Hammel will keep giving you quality starts. That's a guarantee from Townie.

-- The Rockies have turned 30 double plays and only hit into 12. Good stat, Jimmy Armstrong.

-- I wonder if people realize they aren't nervous about Huston Street. They're actually nervous because it's the ninth inning of a close game and every baseball fan with a pulse gets nervous in that situation regardless of who's pitching.

Well, aside from Yankees fans since 1996 and Dodgers fans from 2002-2004.

By the way, Huston is 10-for-10 now in save opportunities and rolling right along.

-- Rafael Betancourt is rolling now too. It just takes him a while, ya know?

-- Come on no highlights of Helton's defense tonight? Give me a break, would ya?

-- Good to see Carlos Gonzalez leave a dent in the wall with that opposite field double. Wow. He scalded that one. And then he left a dent in the sidewall with his toe later on. That wasn't as good to see. Please stop doing that to yourself!

-- I heard Pablo Sandoval is out 4-to-6 weeks with a broken bone in his wrist. Better bring back the Sad Panda.

But we do hate to hear about injuries to anyone, even a Giant. So hopefully he's able to come back at full strength in late June... of 2014.

Lineup Card: 4-30-11 Rockies vs 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. They should be here waiting for you.

Yesterday's Recrap: Bats Cold. Fans Cold. It's Too Cold.

Colorado Rockies (16-8)
  1. CF Dexter Fowler
  2. 2B Jonathan Herrera
  3. 1B Todd Helton
  4. SS Troy Tulowitzki
  5. LF Carlos Gonzalez
  6. 3B Jose Lopez
  7. RF Seth Smith
  8. C  Chris Iannetta
  9. P  Jason Hammel
Welcome back to the three-hole, Todd Helton. Sounds like it may be your new home for at least a few days. 

Pittsburgh Pirates (12-14)
  1. CF Andrew McCutchen
  2. LF Jose Tabata
  3. RF Garrett Jones
  4. 2B Neil Walker
  5. 1B Lyle Overbay
  6. C  Chris Snyder
  7. 3B Pedro Alvarez
  8. SS Ronny Cedeno
  9. P   Paul Maholm

Rock Solid Recrap: Bats Cold. Fans Cold. It's Too Cold.

It's always frustrating to drop winnable games against inferior competition. Even more frustrating when the reason is an ice cold offense, and when the fans in attendance are sitting in uncomfortably cold and snowy conditions.

Friday was one of those nights for the Rockies and their fans.

Cold. And frustrating.

Pirates 3, Rockies 0 (boxscore)

It was cold for the Pirates too, and cold for pitcher Kevin Correia. But he handled the cold just fine, throwing strikes and keeping Colorado off balance with his usual assortment of not very special pitches.

Correia located. He located well. But he doesn't throw overly hard. That should play into the Rockies hands, especially in the cold, where power pitchers are death, and especially at home. But for whatever reason, they couldn't catch on to his patterns or catch up to his low 90s fastball.

It wasn't until the 7th inning when Todd Helton lined out to the wall and Seth Smith singled that they had two good swings in an inning. Of course that was after he hit 100 pitches.

It's weird to see the offense struggling collectively as it is now. I mean sure, we've seen this offense struggle many times before. But with Carlos Gonzalez mired in his funk. With Troy Tulowitzki failing to gain traction. And now with Fowler and Herrera cooling off at the top, the offense has nowhere to turn for a spark.

I don't expect it to stay this way for long though. Someone will break through. And then one or two more will follow. It's just tough to see that light at the end of the tunnel after the past 7-10 days of bleh.

But just imagine how panicked we'd be if the record was 8-16, not 16-8. Wouldn't this blog be fun then?


-- Jhoulys Chacin pitched plenty good. He gave up a pair of solo homers and then a third run in the 7th. Most nights that's going to leave him in line for a victory.

-- The Hell?

I don't know. It was just a weird, cold and bad night at Coors Field. Sounds like tonight could be even colder. Hopefully it doesn't get any weirder or uglier on the field.