Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Exhale

Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2

I didn't go in to today with the usual good feeling I have on Ubaldo days. That feeling certainly wasn't due to a lack of belief in the Chief, it was more a feeling of anxiety over the way Arizona had battled the first two games.

If you haven't noticed, I have a ton of respect for the position players on their roster. Just three years ago a lot of these same players were battling Colorado in the NLCS. In 2008, these same players finished two games back of LA in the NL West.

They can play. They can hit. They can run. They can field.

They just can't pitch.

That's the only thing keeping them from making the West a five team race. But they have been pitching better recently (that continued today with Rodrigo Lopez), so knowing that, and knowing what their offense is capable of -- yes, I was quite nervous about today's result.

That anxiety was amped up a bit by Tulo's first inning error. Not only the error, but a slightly erractic Jimenez (his standards only) and a very patient Arizona approach. In that inning, the D-Backs became the first team to load the bases all season on Ubaldo. They also worked his pitch count to just short of 30.

It took a good pitch and an even better 4-6-3 double play to get Jimenez through the inning untouched. That play allowed him to settle in, but my feeling wasn't improving as Lopez mowed down the Rockies for the first four innings.

The feeling started turning a little bit in the 5th when Ubaldo sacrificed two runners into scoring position. When Carlos Gonzalez followed by punching a two-out, two-run single through the 5.5 hole, I felt for the first time that we were going to avoid baseball disaster. Troy Tulowitzki's solo HR in the 6th added to that sense.

But Arizona didn't die. In the 8th inning, they finally took advantage of their early game patience by rallying against a worn down Jimenez. Kelly Johnson, who hits Ubaldo better than anyone in baseball the season, doubled. Conor Jackson followed with his first HR since April of 2009. Then Adam LaRoche worked another walk.

Ubaldo's day ended at 118 pitches and with his 11th win in serious question.

Rafael Betancourt shut the door on that inning, but when Colorado failed to add on in the 9th, my anxiety hit its highest point of the day. Arizona had set themselves up perfectly to steal the game with Stephen Drew, Justin Upton and Ryan Roberts available on the bench, and Kelly Johnson due up third.

Enter Manny Corpas.

Corpas set down Drew, Roberts and Johnson in order in the 9th. It took a nice play from Barmes chasing a popup down the line, and a fantastic play by Helton sliding to his right, but Manny got it done.


Sweep averted. 3-3 roadtrip secured. After taking 2 of 3 in San Fran, we were hoping for more, but 3-3 isn't the worst result.

Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez (Duh)

Save: Rafael Betancourt/Manny Corpas

Now the Rockies head home for a seven game homestand with Houston and Toronto.

Don't look now, but Houston has won 5 of 6.

And those Blue Jays? They can hit the hell out of the baseball... and they're contending in baseball's best division.

No time to relax. Rockies will have to earn their W's this week.


David Martin said...

Are you at all concerned with the high pitch counts for Jimenez yet? Obviously he has earned the right to go out there for the 8th inning, but after throwing 128 last time out, I wonder if he is starting to wear down a little.