Rockies 6, Phillies 2 (boxscore)
What a refreshing restart to the season this was. The Rockies looked sharp in their 6-2 win over Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies. I mean they looked very sharp, and they looked focused on playing team ball and fundamental ball.
Generally I wouldn't get too excited about this after watching the first three months of this season, but the Rockies played this way in Washington prior to the break, so perhaps there really is a new focus and a stronger commitment to playing smarter and playing more for each other. Maybe. We'll have a better feel for that after we examine the next 48 hours, but at the very least this was an encouraging performance and a very enjoyable game to watch.
Winning Player: Josh Rutledge
The Rockies prospect is called up to the big leagues on Friday. His luggage is lost by his airline. He has to borrow equipment from piratically everyone in the clubhouse. Oh, and he's in the starting lineup against Cliff Lee.
All of those occurrences on their own would have been enough to overwhelm me.
Rutledge? Not knocked off stride, phased, or intimidated one single bit. He finished his major league debut 2-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. He was the key offensive cog. He was a professional in every plate appearance. He looked the part of big leaguer.
It's one game.
It's one damn good game.
Turning Point: Rutledge's sacrifice fly. It came in the 6th with the game tied at 1. There were runners at first and third with one out. It's a scoring opportunity the Rockies have failed to convert repeatedly this season, many times because of that damn contact play, but Rutledge was able to get enough lift and enough distance to get Tyler Colvin home with the go ahead run.
That one bit of great execution brought some confidence to the Rockies dugout. Before you knew it, they were up 6-1 and not long after that they were shaking hands.
Christian Friedrich's Line: 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 82 pitches (53 strikes)
A dandy performance from the young left-hander as he outpitched the great Cliff Lee. Alright, so maybe this current Cliff Lee isn't quite as sharp as we're used to seeing, but Friedrich was that sharp, especially against the Rollins-Victorino-Utley-Howard portion of the Phllies lineup. He held them to 1-for-11 with one RBI, one walk and four strikeouts.
Big boy pitching. Great start to the second half.
What's Next: Game two with the Phillies will feature Jeremy Guthrie (3-8, 6.05) against Vance Worley (4-5, 3.54). Unless it doesn't, because I've also heard it could be Joe Blanton. I guess we'll know for sure when we tune in at 6:10 on Saturday.
Final Thoughts: Colin Daniels over at South Stands Denver posted the unedited video of a Rockies roundtable discussion a couple days ago. It's worth investing 20-22 minutes of your time to check it out if you haven't already. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post was there, among others, discussing all of the Rockies organizational issues, including problems within their developmental system.
But perhaps the most interesting few minutes come when they're talking about the Monforts loyalty/family atmosphere and how that doesn't work/fit in a competitive business. It's a very good discussion. Go watch it.