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The atmosphere felt like October, the weather like the beginning of summer.
The Rockies, behind a shiny performance from 22-year-old Jhoulys Chacin, defeated the Boston Red Sox 2-1 at Coors Field on Tuesday in the opening of a three-game series.
After the game, outfielder Ryan Spilborghs called the stadium "Fenway West" because of the large number of Red Sox fans who infiltrated the home of the Rockies. While there were plenty of Boston fans littered throughout the stands, Rockies fans did a good job of keeping them quiet.
The win was capped off by a phenomenal play by fill-in shortstop Clint Barmes.
Barmes, a shortstop by trade, is the Rockies everyday second baseman because, despite good defense, he is a notch below Troy Tulowitzki at the position. With Tulowitzki out for eight weeks with a broken wrist, Barmes has made the transition back to shortstop.
If there was any doubt that Barmes could hold his own as the captain of the infield, it was erased when he laid out on a hard ground ball in the hole off of the bat of Mike Lowell. If the ball had gone through, the Red Sox would have had the tying run standing on third base with the top of the order ready to hit. Instead, Barmes got up and made a throw that Todd Helton dug out of the dirt for the out, which secured the win for the Rockies.
With John Lester on the mound for the Red Sox, the Rockies knew that they would need a great performance from Chacin. It was clear from the get-go that they would get that much-needed performance.
After breezing through the first two innings, Chacin ran into trouble in the third. After loading the bases, Chacin looked like he was about to repeat what has been his biggest issue so far: the big inning. Instead, with Victor Martinez at the plate and a 3-0 count, Chacin battled back and got Martinez to hit into a harmless ground ball to second.
In the seventh inning, Chacin once again loaded the bases. With David Ortiz pinch hitting for Lester, Chacin was removed for lefty specialist Joe Beimel. In what has become almost automatic, Beimel got Ortiz to ground out to second base to end the threat and get Chacin off the hook.
In all, Chacin went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just four hits. He dealt with traffic because he fought through control issues. He walked five, and struck out five as well. His changeup was the pitch that made believers out of the Red Sox hitters.
The Rockies are now 3-1 since Tulowitzki went down. In June, without their infield captain, the Rockies are 6-1.
Colorado is a club that has shown in the past three years that they rise to the occasion when their backs are against the wall. While the Rockies have not shown signs of that so far in 2010, and winning a game against the Red Sox by no means says that this team is going to pick it up a notch with Tulowitzki out, it was good to see that the Rockies are not folding. They are fighting through the early stages of the injury. Many thought that they would have simply rolled over and waited for next season.
On Wednesday, the Rockies send their ace and best pitcher in franchise history to the mound in Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez left the park before the game started on Tuesday due to dizziness and an upset stomach. The Rockies are saying that he will make his start on Wednesday, though the news brings some concern.
Will Jimenez have the strength to pitch the way that he has all season long? It would be a shame for Jimenez to not have his best stuff when he finally gets to face a team with the national exposure that the Red Sox bring with them.
If Jimenez can dominate Boston, it will go a long way to show how good he actually is, instead of simply writing off Jimenez's success due to him playing in the "weaker National League."
Jimenez takes on the Red Sox big offseason acquisition in the form of John Lackey. Lackey has met all of the team's expectations as far as wins and losses go, but his ERA is a little higher than what the club and their fans most likely expected. He currently sits at 4.53 heading into his matchup with Jimenez.