Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rock Solid Recap: Todd (expletive) Helton

And Jorge De La Rosa, too. Co-MVPs for tonight's win.

Rockies 4, Cubs 3 (boxscore)

-- We'll start with Todd Helton, because he is after all, Todd ****ing Helton.

Helton delivered his first multi-HR game since August 7th, 2007, and his 27th multi-HR game of his borderline Hall of Fame career. I hate having to phrase it that way but that's where he is right now.

Both homers were solo shots, and both came off a lefty in James Russell. Granted Mr. Russell is, as one Cubs fan noted on Twitter, possibly the worst pitcher to ever make three consecutive starts in the Majors. From what I've seen I can't form an argument against that.

The first was definitely aided by the wind blowing out towards right. No problem with that. I think the second one to straight away center leaves pretty much any ballpark save for Petco and Minute Maid in Houston. That ball was struck with some serious authority. That was a vintage Todd Helton year 2000 swing.

And he had another decent swing that he felt he just missed based on his reaction. So needless to say he's feeling pretty comfortable.

Will Todd get another start in the three-hole based on Tuesday's results? I'm going to say no to Wednesday, but I'm sure next time Jim Tracy needs a guy there, Helton will be the choice. It's really nice being able to say that and know it's not wishful thinking.

-- Jorge De La Rosa had a really good plan of action against the Cubs tonight with the wind blowing out. Credit Bob Apodaca as well. They knew they were facing a strictly right-handed lineup in less than favorable pitching conditions, but it's also a very undisciplined lineup. De La Rosa was able to take advantage, striking out nine, walking NONE and allowing one earned run over seven innings.

Very impressive outing that improves Jorge to 4-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.61.

-- Ty Wigginton also provided another key hit on the road. His 4th inning solo homer put the Rockies ahead for good. He also doubled, singled and stole a base to round out his impressive game.

-- Damn, Jose Lopez has hit the ball hard and given good at-bats dating back to Sunday against Josh Johnson. All that has gotten him is an 0-for-11. The game really isn't fair sometimes.

-- Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street. You know the drill.

-- No sense settling for a series win in Chicago. Let's hope the Rockies can finish strong here, finish off the sweep, and go home with TWO winning road trips to start the season.

Lineup Card: 4-26-11 Rockies @ Cubs

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

Yesterday's Recap: Rockies defeat weather and Cubbies

Colorado Rockies (15-7)
  1. CF Dexter Fowler
  2. 2B Jonathan Herrera
  3. 1B Todd Helton
  4. SS Troy Tulowitzki
  5. 3B Jose Lopez
  6. LF Ty Wigginton
  7. RF Ryan Spilborghs
  8. C   Chris Iannetta
  9. P   Jorge De La Rosa
Carlos Gonzalez gets a much needed night off while Ryan Spilborghs and Ty Wigginton get some much needed ABs. And did we ever honestly think we'd see Todd Helton hit third again, even if only for one day? He's definitely earned it. 

Chicago Cubs (10-12)
  1. SS Starlin Castro
  2. 2B Darwin Barney
  3. CF Marlon Byrd
  4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
  5. 1B Jeff Baker
  6. C  Geovany Soto
  7. LF Alfonso Soriano
  8. RF Reed Johnson
  9. P   James Russell

Rock Solid Recap: Rockies defeat weather and Cubbies

In the hours leading up to Monday night's game at Wrigley Field, I was certain there would be a delay or two at best, with no baseball likely. But despite the rain that had been falling most of the afternoon into the early evening, the game started on time, with a window opening up just enough to fit in the full nine innings.

That left us with two completely different teams battling on less than ideal field conditions. One of them very good defensively. The other being the Chicago Cubs.

I think you already know how this ends before I type another word.

Rockies 5 (0 errors), Cubs 3 (4 errors) (boxscore)

-- Unfortunately for Chicago's future All-Star Starlin Castro, the baseball kept finding him when the field was probably in its worst condition, the baseball was its slickest, and his self doubt was highest. That was in the top of the second inning, when Castro committed three consecutive errors.

The first came on a routine grounder off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki. I'm putting that one all on Castro, creating a little self doubt after a rough weekend with the glove.

The second was a Jose Lopez chopper that he could never grip. Wet baseball.

The third was the most devastating. Chris Iannetta pulled one deep in the hole at short. Castro attempted to cut down the lead runner at second, his throw sailed way wide of the bag, allowing two runs to score and Iannetta to move all the way to third. Tough play and wet baseball means you can't try to do something spectacular.

The fourth error belonged to pitcher Matt Garza, who airmailed a Jonathan Herrera sacrifice bunt attempt into the Rockies bullpen. That led to the decisive runs crossing the plate.

That left Garza with the unusual looking line of 6 IP, 3 H, 5 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 7 K and 1 Loss

As you can see, the honest truth is the Rockies didn't do a whole lot offensively. But they never once shot themselves in the foot in the field, and they made all four Cubs errors count against them. So credit goes all around once again. Especially to the gloves. That's really quite an accomplishment to play error free tonight.

-- Esmil Rogers had another rough beginning to his outing on Monday, but unlike the last time against San Francisco, he was able to rebound for another 4+ innings of solid work. That was a huge bounce back that had to restore a lot of his confidence and the team's confidence in him. I know mine was wavering quite a bit when he served up the 0-2 home run to Darwin Barney (1st career).

So credit goes to Esmil for hanging tough and showing a lot of mental toughness in the face of doubt, poor performance and really crappy weather. Says a lot for him. Maybe even qualifies as a step forward.

-- I didn't see the Rockies feed but I hope Matt Lindstrom was player of the game. His inning and two-thirds were awesome. He only needed 18 pitches to get five big outs, including getting Rogers out of the 6th inning jam by retiring Castro and then blowing away Jeff Baker. By far the biggest outs of the game.

-- Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street did their jobs once again. You have to really like how the Rockies are able to shorten games to 6-7 innings with Lindstrom, Betancourt and Street throwing so well. Takes a little pressure away from the offense. Yes, you still want them to add on, but there's not that overwhelming doom and gloom feeling if they don't.

At least for right now.