Rockies 7, Cubs 5 (boxscore)
Winning Player: Jordan Pacheco
Real easy choice today. Pacheco was the man offensively (with the 1st inning three-run homer) and defensively (which you'll see shortly).
Turning Point: Pacheco's 1st inning homer stood up the entire game, but there were moments when that seemed in doubt. That included the 5th inning when Chicago loaded the bases against Jhoulys Chacin with one out. The Rockies held a 7-3 lead there, and Chacin needed those two outs to qualify for the win. And he got them thanks to fielder's choice force play at home against Luis Valbuena and a Steve Clevenger groundout.
Jhoulys Chacin's Line: 5 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 85 pitches (55 strikes)
Chacin didn't have much today, but Jim Tracy allowed him to go beyond to the 75 pitches get out of that bases loaded jam. It was refreshing to see that from Jim and just as good to see Chacin reward the faith. I guess you could call it a gritty effort, but certainly a difficult one to watch or feel overly encouraged about. He is healthy, though, so there's that.
Bullpen's Line: 4 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 K
All of the bullpen's damage came against a gassed out Matt Belisle in the 9th. That was cleaned up by Rafael Betancourt, who struck out back-to-back hitters, and then Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge finished it as you'll see right now.
Highlight of the Afternoon: I admit I'm a little weird, but to me there's no more enjoyable play to watch in baseball than a great pick/scoop/dig by a first baseman. Perhaps that's because I grew up playing the position myself. Maybe it's because I grew up watching Mark Grace do it expertly with the Chicago Cubs. But most likely it's because for the past 15 years I've watched Todd Helton turn it into an art form. It's just a beautiful thing to watch because it's not an easy thing to do at all, but these guys make it look so easy and so smooth.
Jordan Pacheco is certainly not the smoothest as a fill-in at first, and the entire defense suffers with a strong anchor like Helton, but to Pacheco's credit he's improved in all areas defensively with some extended playing time. That improvement show today when he completed one of the Rockies best defensive play of the season (thanks also to Josh Rutledge) with a phenomenal game-saving scoop.
What's Next: With the home schedule complete, the Rockies will head out on a season-ending six-game road trip needing to win just once to avoid the dreaded 100 loss season. In other words, it's still VERY much up in the air, so I would hope/suggest they get that win out of the way right away in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Jeff Francis (5-6, 5.54) vs. Clayton Kershaw (12-9, 2.68)... 8:10.
Hmm... well, maybe they should aim for Saturday.