Coming into Monday's opening game of a three-game series between the Giants and Rockies at Coors Field, the buzz around baseball was how the Colorado Rockies have surged to a 12-3 start right out of the gate in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have been called the best 1-2 offensive punch in the game and the Rockies seemed to be unstoppable.
That was until Tim Lincecum took the mound Monday night at Coors Field.
Up until Monday, the Rockies had won 12 of their first 15 games against the likes of the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Pirates, Mets and Cubs—all teams that are currently at or below .500 and don't seem likely to be contenders in 2011. So 12-3 is indeed a good start, but considering the opposition, Colorado wouldn't be too happy if they didn't start the season on a high note.
Enter the San Francisco Giants, defending world champions. Defending world champions for one main reason: pitching.
Tim Lincecum is the first elite pitcher the Rockies have seen. Sure the Rockies can hit, but not Lincecum. The Franchise went 7 and 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 10 and walking three as the Giants produced some offensive fireworks early to bury the Rockies, 8-1.
Lincecum didn't allow a baserunner through the first three innings and didn't allow a hit through the first six.
What Lincecum did to the Rockies at Coors Field gives us a glimpse of why the Giants remain the class in the National League West and why the Rockies, though talented, will fall short of the division title this year.
The Giants have phenomenal pitching. No, phenomenal doesn't do this staff justice. It's uncanny. In the crisp, thin, offensively-charged atmosphere of the Mile High City, in arguably the ballpark with the biggest home field advantage —Coors Field—Tim Lincecum absolutely stifled the red-hot Rockies offense.
Just as in last year's postseason, when the the Phillies were picked to defeat the Giants in the NLCS and the Rangers picked to defeat them in the World Series—both, incidentally, chosen by most pundits because of their superior offense—the Rockies have what some would argue is the superior offense to the Giants'.
But as the Giants proved in 2010, pitching always beats hitting. Every time. And Lincecum proved that adage to be true again Monday night.
The 8-1 decision was just the first of many meetings between these two clubs, who are likely to be the two contenders in the National League West in 2011 but look for the Giants' arms to win the day.