Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cook Returning To Form

Angels 4, Rockies 2

Aaron Cook pitched like a total stud tonight. My goodness was he sharp. The numbers won't completely bare that out, but to those watching intently you know Cook was in command and using all of his pitches effectively. Especially after the shaky/bad luck filled first inning.

About that first inning.

When you have a pitcher on the mound as frazzled as Aaron Cook was in road starts coming in, you can't afford boneheaded plays like the one made by Ian Stewart. Just get Cook outs. He made his pitch, get him an out. Don't congest the bases even more trying to make a fancy play or force a double play that isn't there.

It wasn't smart. There's a lot to like about Ian Stewart, but it baffles me sometimes how poor his instincts are.

All this doesn't take Cook off the hook for making the lazy 3-0 pitch to Matsui, but the circumstances surrounding the whole first inning were largely out of his control. That includes the jam job bloop single by Torii Hunter. Hard to make a better pitch than that.

Also, the Angels four run first shows us once again how important simply putting the ball in play is. Nothing good ever happens when an offense doesn't get the ball in play, and that was a problem yet again for Colorado. Another bleh pitcher, Joe Saunders, fell one short of his career high strikeout total with eight.

Hated the approach by Carlos Gonzalez and Jason Giambi against Saunders. The game plan apparently called for patience, and rightfully so when you study his recent starts, but neither of them seemed to get that message. Bad swings at bad pitches early in the count. Never really allowed themselves a chance to be productive against a lefty they should handle.

That was frustrating.

We didn't see the same urgent plate appearances we've seen the last four games. We saw a few good ones, but not the up and down the order tough ABs. Tonight I'll chalk that up to fatigue, lack of confidence hitting on the road, and maybe a little bit to Saunders for being better than usual.

Still a chance to win a big road series tomorrow before heading off to San Diego. Needless to say this stretch of baseball isn't letting up in quality of opponent or importance. Need a good game from Chacin tomorrow so the bullpen can get another solid day of rest. Let's get it done.

Lineup Card -- Rockies @ Angels

Rockies Lineup (39-34)

  • 2B Herrera
  • RF Spilborghs
  • CF Gonzalez
  • DH Giambi
  • 1B  Mora
  • C   Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • LF Smith
  • SS Barmes
Aaron Cook on the mound.  Jim Tracy will cross his fingers that he can get another at least seven innings out of Cookie.  That seems almost impossible on the road.

The latest on Brad Hawpe is the same as the earliest report.  Bruised Ribs.  Day-to-Day.  Not likely to be available for any kind of duty tonight.  

Angels Lineup (41-35)
  • 2B Kendrick
  • 3B Frandsen
  • DH Abreu
  • CF Hunter
  • LF Matsui
  • RF Rivera
  • 1B Napoli
  • SS Aybar
  • C   Wilson
Southpaw Joe Saunders on the hill for the Angels.  He used to be real good.  Now he's just kinda bleh.  The Rockies haven't fared real well against bleh this season.  

Rock Solid Recap: Herrera is my Hero

These games are taking years off our lives.

And it's only June!

Rockies 4, Angels 3 (11)

Of all the wonderful stories the game of baseball can tell, the one that I enjoy the most involves a guy like Jonathan Herrerea. A guy with no hype, no fanfare, and few expectiations, that just possesses a determination and that one ingredient that pushes a team to another level.

Let's face it, the Rockies have had good players batting at the top of their order -- Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith have a spent a lot of time there -- but they haven't had a legit pain in the ass there in far too long. By that I mean, a that gives good ABs, reaches base, possesses enough speed to be dangerous, and above all, understands his role.

Herrera, to this point, has shown those qualities. All he needed was the opportunity to play every day. Now we're seeing the results.

It just sets the lineup up so beautifully. Now you can let Carlos Gonzalez do what he was born to you... drive in runs. Helton can be that perfect #2 hitter that gets on base. Then you slot your lineup the rest of the way accordingly.

The whole lineup gains a new dynamic and a fresh confidence that is slowly trickling its way down to the Ian Stewarts and the Chris Iannettas.

It's funny I'm saying all these nice things about a kid that struck out his first three plate appearances in this game. But the great thing about Herrera is that each AB wasn't wasted. He was fooled very badly a couple times, but he filed away the approach the Angels pitching were using on him. That allowed him to fight off a tough pitch inside to bloop a single in the 8th. The same pitch that had frozen him twice already.

I noted this as I was watching but didn't tweet it.

Did you see that other #Rockies hitters? Angels had a plan to get Herrera out, it worked a couple times, but he adjusted to get a single.

Dexter Fowler should also take note of that.

Herrera added two more singles after that. The one in the 11th inning proved to be the game winner.

It's just a fantastic story that seems to get better everyday. And as I've said many times, his defense isn't a downgrade at all. He can play the infield. He's quick. He can make the throws.

I don't know yet that he could sustain a whole season, but I feel the Rockies have uncovered something here that will benefit them more than a trade for Dan Uggla or anyone would.

On a side note tonight... Chris Iannetta had his best game of the season. A two-run HR in the 5th on a hanging curve got Colorado on the board. His two out double in the 11th started that rally from scratch. The Rockies will need to lean on him a little more going forward as I believe the workload on Olivo is unsustainable.

That is much like the workload on Manny Corpas. He got the outs he needed tonight, but Jim Tracy has to realize 41 innings in 73 games is going to kill a reliever. At some point he'll have to back off on Manny, let him catch his breath, and then slot in him in the 6th-7th.

Winning Player: Matt Belisle

The same could probably be said about Belisle, but hats off to him for gutting this out and coming through again. Herrera's three hits were all huge, but Matt Belisle's work not only won the Rockies this game, but it could possibly win them tomorrow's as well. He's a horse and is becoming one of my favorite guys on the team.

Whew. Another late night. Time for some rest. Let's hope tomorrow is a much quicker, easier on the liver and heart type of victory.