Rockies 4, Cubs 2 (boxscore)
This has been an excellent few days for Esmil Rogers, and a lot of the good took place before he dominated (5 IP, 1 H, 3 K, 15 batters) a significant portion of the Chicago Cubs opening day lineup this afternoon.
Felipe Paulino was officially moved to the bullpen late last week. That surprised me a little given their situation in the rotation, but the Rockies originally envisioned Paulino as such when they traded for him. They confirmed that assessment when Paulino was strong during the first inning of his last start but faltered after.
Clayton Mortensen was optioned to Triple A today. That trims the 5th starter competition down to Rogers, John Maine and Greg Reynolds.
And then Rogers went out and delivered the Rockies best pitching performance of the spring, so needless to say he's in the driver's seat.
The keys for Rogers is getting over those two big hurdles I mentioned last week: 1) Get ahead in the count. 2) Finish off hitters and innings strongly. At least for today, Rogers was able to accomplish both, and his new approach of working quicker may have assisted. Now it will be interesting to see how he follows up this weekend.
Cubs Broadcaster Len Kasper
Kasper called his 15th straight spring training game today, whether it be TV or MLB.com audio. That's amazing. Can he get my vote for Colorado broadcaster of the year? I've heard him doing more Rockies broadcasts than Drew Goodman.
Top of the order
For the most part the Rockies are getting strong production at the top from guys like Dexter Fowler, Willy Taveras, Jordan Pacheco and Seth Smith, but today Taveras, Smith and others combined to go 0-for-9 with five strikeouts and one walk. Similar performances are bound to happen throughout the course of a six month season, but hopefully not too many resemble this one. Icky.
Matt Belisle, Matt Lindstrom, Huston Street each dealt with some traffic, but did their part in preserving the shutout into the ninth inning. All three seem to be working out the kinks from early in the spring and well on their way to being ready for opening day.