The Rockies are attempting to exorcise as many demons as possible early in the 2011 season. They already completed a sweep (abbreviated as it was) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They already won their first road series - first east of the Mississippi River since 2009. Now they have gone into New York's Citi Field, not played particularly well, and somehow found a way to secure a victory in the series opener.
It breaks down like this.
To overcome a blown scoring chance in the 2nd inning. To overcome a couple defensive hiccups in the 4th. To overcome Rafael Betancourt's struggles. To overcome Ian Stewart's existence. (I don't really mean this, I don't hate him. Seriously.)
There have been games in New York (or anywhere on the road) in the past (several of them, in fact) where overcoming even one of these factors was too much to ask of the Rockies. To overcome all of them, on one given night. That's a good thing. A real good thing.
-- During one full inning stretch (bottom 7th through the top of the 8th) Troy Tulowitzki made one Gold Glove caliber play, saving the go ahead run from scoring, and then capped a three run rally with a long two run home run. That's what a superstar does when his team needs it the most. He takes over, and he refuses to allow his team to lose.
And as sad as it is to say, when you do something like that in New York, you've probably earned yourself a few MVP votes assuming you stay in the mix all season. Those are the lazy writers you need to impress to win that award.
-- Well, Jason Hammel probably didn't impress the casual fan with his performance tonight, but he's now defeated a #2 in Chad Billingsly, and left the game tied against a #1 in Mike Pelfrey. Granted Pelfrey has been struggling, but let's please understand how important it is to win these pitching matchups.
Hammel's game isn't flashy. It never has been and it never will be. For whatever reason people can't just judge him for what he is. A damn good bottom of the rotation guy that is better than most other #4's and just about every #5 in the game.
-- Again, you have to love the at-bats you're getting from Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera at the top of the order. They combined to reach base four times (Fowler added a sac fly and Herrera a sac bunt).
With Chris Iannetta walking twice, and Jason Hammel even contributing a hit, that gave Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez plenty of opportunity to run produce. And run produce they did. Six total RBI from the 3-4 punch. Had they faltered, Seth Smith and his three hits were there to support them.
-- The only source of concern is Rafael Betancourt. He allowed a lead-off home run to Jose Tabata on Saturday night. Tonight he allowed a couple more runs, including a lead-off homer to David Wright. Hopefully it's just a little blip on the radar that the Rockies have been able to deal with and he'll be on track later in the series.
-- All eyes are now on Esmil Rogers to see how he follows up his gem in Pittsburgh. Looking very much forward to that.