Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rock Solid Recap: Rockies Resilience On Display In Comeback Win

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 6 (boxscore)

I have to say, as encouraging and fun as Wednesday night's hit parade against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants bullpen was, this performance and result tonight actually made a bigger impact with me.

It's one thing to have a night where everything just clicks offensively and the stats quickly become inflated. It's quite another to scratch, claw and battle all the way back from a 6-2 deficit against a quality opponent — team and pitcher — and then never give it back once you've taken it.

I loved this win. The team owed it to Juan Nicasio after last Sunday. Everybody contributed to the comeback one way or another. No at-bats were given away... especially with two outs. The bullpen was simply lights out.

Bottom line: Resilient effort. Quality win.

Winning Player(s): The Bullpen

Esmil Rogers has been outstanding (damn near perfect) so far in his relief role and that definitely includes tonight's CLUTCH two and a third scoreless. Rogers took over for a scuffling Juan Nicasio in the third, cutting off what had already been a four-run inning. He then ran into trouble of his own  — 2nd and 3rd, no outs — in the fourth, but showed poise and maturity well beyond what we've seen from him in the past by getting through it unharmed with a groundout and two strikeouts.

Rogers then gave way to Matt Belisle, who pitched a clean sixth and then dealt with a two-base Michael Cuddyer error starting the seventh. Yes, all three Rockies outfielders have dropped a flyball within the first seven games, although this one was by far the furthest away from being routine. Anyway, Belisle was unfazed by the situation and left Miguel Montero standing right there.

Rex Brothers would then pitch a rocky but scoreless eighth, ultimately earning the victory. Which leads to...

Betanclock: 8 minutes, 58 seconds was all Raffy needed to convert this tight, one-run save. He's now 2-for-2 on the season.

Sceengrab of the Game
It's actually even lower after the final two innings. (MLB.TV)

Turning Point: There were several critical moments, but the true turning point was Ramon Hernandez's two-out, two-run double over Justin Upton's head in the third. The hit answered Arizona's rally in the top half and cut the deficit to 6-4.

Hernandez also contributed a home run and another turning point moment in the eighth when he gunned down Ryan Roberts trying to advance on a wild pitch. Needless to say a very impactful game from the Rockies veteran backstop.

Highlight of the Night: You didn't think I'd forget about Todd Helton, did you? The Toddfather punctuated the Rockies comeback with a clutch, two-out, opposite field, RBI double in the eighth. Just a textbook approach and a picture perfect swing. I'm getting goosebumps describing it, so just go watch it.

Juan Nicasio's Line:  2 2/3, 6 ER, 5 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 91 pitches (49 strikes)

The walks are a career high for Nicasio. In fact, he surpassed his previous high of two when he walked the bases loaded in a 44-pitch first inning. I'm sure adrenaline played some part in the usually pinpoint Nicasio being off the mark initially, but many of those pitches still appeared to be borderline. Unfortunately, not enough of them fell into home plate umpire Mark Wegner's extremely tight strike zone.

Those factors, coupled with an impressively patient Arizona lineup, knocked Nicasio off his game early, and things just kind of spiraled from there. But with that said, I wouldn't be too concerned with his performance because the walks were out of character and the circumstances were certainly unique. If he follows it up with another wild outing or two, then you reexamine him, but I wouldn't anticipate that happening.

What's Next: Jhoulys Chacin will look to wash the taste of Monday's opener out of his mouth against Arizona and their hurler Josh Collmenter. If you can believe it, Collmenter was actually a little worse than Chacin in his first start, so it's a bounce back opportunity for him as well. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 on Saturday evening.