Rockies riding out early storm
The Denver Post
One of these days, the real Rockies are going to show up at Coors Field. The healthy Rockies, the fundamentally sound Rockies, the Rockies with a productive Todd Helton in the middle of their lineup.
But that team is nowhere to be found in mid-May. So it is that the Rockies find themselves buying time today in hopes of a better tomorrow. They also find themselves appreciating every win they can get their hands on.
When one of those wins comes with a possible Hall of Famer on the mound for the opposition, it makes it even sweeter. Such was the case in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies when the Rockies rallied to tie it late against Roy Halladay, then won it in the 10th inning on Miguel Olivo’s first career walkoff home run.
Afterward, Rockies manager Jim Tracy called it a win that, come the dog days, could be looked upon as one of the most important of the season. But at any rate, it was a win that showed, despite all their issues, the Rockies still have heart.
“We’re not at full strength just yet, but nobody is complaining about it,” Tracy said. “We’ve got a game out there to play, and we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play as hard as we can play.”
Colorado trailed 3-1 in the seventh against Halladay, 6-1 with a 1.45 ERA going into the game. But the Rockies rallied, thanks to Brad Hawpe’s two-run triple off Halladay in the seventh, a drive that caromed off the right-field wall. And they won it when Olivo, one of baseball’s most notorious first-ball hitters, hit a first-pitch hanging breaking ball from Chad Durbin into the left-field seats, his fifth hit of the day.
A big win?
“Huge,” said Aaron Cook, who allowed eight hits and three runs in six innings. “The guys kept battling out there. We’ve been going through some things, but we’re never going to hang our heads or blame any of our performance on that (injuries).”
Let there be no doubt, frustration had been setting in, the likes of which the Rockies hadn’t felt since Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle last season. They kicked away one game in Los Angeles over the weekend and lost the series finale when Ubaldo Jimenez allowed two hits. Then came Monday’s series-opening loss to the Phillies.
A loss Wednesday – the game was supposed to be part of a split doubleheader, but the second game was postponed with no makeup date set – and the Rockies would have fallen three games below .500 for the first time. The players were growing increasingly frustrated and, said Tracy, “Quite frankly, their manager has been the exact same way.”
No wonder Tracy was ejected for the first time this season – by Pomona High School grad Cory Blaser, no less – while arguing an out call at first base in the ninth inning.
The Rockies needed a spark, a lift, a temporary respite from all the injury news and the flu and cold bugs that attacked the clubhouse on their West Coast road trip.
So who provided the elixir?
Olivo, who had been mired in a 2-for-28 slump and hadn’t driven in a run in May. It helped that he was home, sweet home at Coors Field, where he has become a one-man wrecking crew.
Olivo’s story is a tale of two hitters. He’s hitting .122 (5-for-41) on the road. After Wednesday’s 5-for-5 performance, he stands at .419 (18-for-43) at Coors Field, with four homers and 11 RBIs.
“It was my first walkoff home run, my first walkoff hit,” Olivo said. “I got a little chill at second base when I saw everybody at home plate. Maybe that’s the game that’s going to wake everybody up.”
Jim Armstrong: 303-954-1269 or email@example.com
TODAY: Nationals at Rockies, 6:40 p.m., FSN
The light has gone on for Jhoulys Chacin (2-0, 0.00 ERA), whose fastball command has set up his lethal changeup and sinker. Dodgers hitters were swinging over both pitches as Chacin extended to 15 1/3 his streak of scoreless innings. John Lannan (1-2, 6.34) is a high-80s fastball pitcher who needs to command his curveball to keep hitters off balance. Brad Hawpe is 4-for-9 off him with a home run.
Jim Armstrong, The Denver Post
Upcoming pitching matchups
Friday: Nationals’ Livan Hernandez (4-1, 1.04 ERA) at Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez (6-1, 0.93), 7:10 p.m., FSN
Saturday: Nationals’ Luis Atilano (3-0, 3.57) at Rockies’ Greg Smith (1-2, 6.35), 6:10 p.m., FSN
Sunday: Nationals’ Scott Olsen (2-1, 3.51) at Rockies’ Aaron Cook (1-3, 5.80), 1:10 p.m., FSN