After going into hibernation after a playoff run in 2009, the grizzly bear that was supposed to be the Rockies offense has been closer to a kitten than a bear.
There is good news for Rockies fans. After 79 games, the Rockies offense has woken up.
The resurgent Rockies offense can be credited to two players in particular.
Carlos Gonzalez, and once again Clint Barmes came up big for the Rockies in their victory. Gonzalez's contribution came in the first inning when he launched a Madison Bumgarner offering deep into the shrubs beyond the centerfield wall at Coors Field. As with most of Gonzalez's home runs, the only question was whether it would stay high enough to leave the park.
Barmes came through big once again. The second baseman, filling in at shortstop while Troy Tulowitzki recovers from a broken wrist bone, went 2-for-4, driving in a big run to untie the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning. In the eighth inning, with the Rockies in need of a few insurance runs, Barmes delivered again, singling and scoring on Jason Giambi's pinch hit single up the middle.
For Gonzalez, the home run was big because it got the Rockies out to a 2-0 lead. In a series in which the Rockies know that runs are going to be hard to come by, getting a lead early in the game is important.
In a four game series, taking the first game is crucial because it does not put the team in a position to have to force runs and try to get creative on Saturday and Sunday in order to salvage one or two games in the set. Gonzalez's home run was very helpful in getting the Rockies started.
All Barmes has done since Tulowitzki went down is hit .333 (16-for-48) with two home runs and eight RBIs. He currently sits second on the team, tied with Miguel Olivo, with 39 runs batted in.
For Aaron Cook, the start represented a step forward for him. While he was not flawless, the redhead was able to do the job that he needed to do in order to help his team pick up a victory. Despite nearly giving up his second grand slam in as many starts when Aaron Rowand hit a ball just foul down the left field line, Cook was able to wiggle out of jams and pick up a victory.
The impressive part for the Rockies lately has not only been their ability to finally put some runs on the scoreboard, but their ability to score late in games. Heading into the bottom of the 8th inning the Rockies had just a one run lead. Not exactly the kind of lead a team wants to hand to their closer who just returned from a season-long injury less than two weeks ago.
Throughout most of the season the team has been content with just a few runs. However, something seems to have clicked since the club played the Red Sox. They are now supporting their pitchers with not simply enough runs to get by on, but enough runs to have some room for error. What that means to a starting pitcher is being able to throw strikes and let the opposition hit the ball, knowing that they have enough of a cushion that if something goes wrong, they aren't going to blow the game.
For Rockies fans who have been frustrated with their team's early season play, keep this in mind. As bad as the club has underperformed through the first half of the season, they sit just four games out not just of first place in the National League West, but four games out of having the best record in the National League. This is a team that could find their stride a make a serious run at their first ever NL West Championship.
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