Last year it took seven games before the Rockies got their second win of the season. It took three tries before the team won its first series.
2009 is a new story.
Using a tough early schedule as motivation, the team got off to a good start in the opening series.
Series Recap: The Rockies never trailed Wednesday afternoon, soundly defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-2 at Chase Field and taking the opening series two games to one.
What I liked: As a team, the offense was solid, putting up 20 runs on 25 hits in three games.
In games one and three, the team scored eight and nine runs, respectively. During Tuesday evening’s game, the team was in the middle of a pitcher’s duel between Ubaldo Jimenez and Dan Haren. Even then, however, the Rockies were able to get productive hits and bring runners around when they needed to.
The key hits were something that did not come easy in 2008.
Offensive power from the lineup was seen from top to bottom. Even the team’s arguably least powerful hitter, rookie Dexter Fowler, hit the first pitch he saw in game three over the left field wall. In all, seven home runs were hit in the series, including back to back home runs, twice.
What was more impressive, however, was the pitching.
Jimenez was phenomenal, allowing just four hits and zero runs in seven innings, striking out eight. As a big surprise, No. 5 starter, Franklin Morales pitched six solid innings in Wednesday’s game, not letting a run past the second batter of the game. Stephen Drew’s home run was the only runner to reach scoring position off of Morales.
Morales, who was told prior to the start of the season that this was his only chance to prove himself, did everything he could to keep his spot in the rotation. With several off days, Morales will pitch in Triple-A for next two weeks. His next possible start would be April 21. He is competing with newly acquired Jason Hammel and Matt Belisle for the last spot in the rotation.
The bullpen struggled a little bit in the first game, allowing three runs in 5.66 innings, but has since been nearly perfect, allowing just two hits and one run in five innings of relief.
The team was also perfect in the field, committing zero errors in the three-game series.
What needs improvement: Even in the loss, I was impressed with the product on the field. There’s not much to complain about.
Aaron Cook, who pitched in the opener, got the hook just seven outs into the game after giving up six runs. This was not the type of start expected from the club’s ace. However, the pitcher has revisited film and knows what he needs to do in order to perform like an ace for the remainder of the season.
The base running wasn’t how I had hoped it would be. Although I do agree with manager Clint Hurdle’s plan of being more aggressive, it didn’t work in the series, which included players like Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta being thrown out while trying to steal and pitcher Franklin Morales picked off at first base.
However, I hope that the early struggles don’t hesitate Hurdle’s aggressive decisions.
Overall: The Rockies were 3-15 against the Diamondbacks in 2008. They knew that in order to compete this year, they would have to beat the teams picked ahead of them in the division.
It’s still early, but I liked what I saw in the opening series.
Series Preview: The road for the Rockies doesn’t get any easier as they open up their home schedule in a weekend series against the defending World Series champion, Philadelphia Phillies.
After trailing 10-3, the Phillies scored eight runs in the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon, becoming victorious for the first time since clinching the title last October. The Phillies had dropped their first two games to the Atlanta Braves earlier in the week.
The Rockies were 0-6 against the Phillies in 2008, and haven’t beat them since sweeping them in the 2007 NLDS.
Phillies' Cole Hamels (14- 10, 3.09) vs. Rockies' Jason Marquis (11-9, 4.53), 2:10 p.m. MT
Phillies' Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00*) vs. Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa (10-8, 4.92), 6:10 p.m. MT
Phillies' Chan Ho Park (4-4, 3.40) vs. Rockies' Aaron Cook (0-0, 23.14*), 1:10 p.m. MT
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