I don’t know if anyone has noticed lately, but the long-dead offense of the Rockies seems to have been resuscitated. Since last Friday they have scored:
Granted, all but the last game was at Coors, but earlier this season that didn’t matter. And considering they continue to use essentially AAAA talent at 1B and LF, that is actually pretty darn good. Of course a lot of the offense of late has to do with guys like Tulo and last night CarGo finding a little more of their normal offense. And Nick Hundley has been a pleasant surprise. Blackmon has been much better the last month. And considering they are AAAA guys, Barnes and Paulsen have been money (we do know from last year, the longer you play Brandon Barnes, the worse he gets and moves from asset to liability). But all that aside, the fact is the recent offensive explosion has a name.
Nolan Arenado…superstar? Well, maybe not quite yet, but with Giancarlo Stanton now on the DL with a broken hamate bone (and surgery and anyone who thinks this isn’t a big deal look at Tim Wheeler whose power tool went from a 60 to a 45 with the same injury), the RBI and HR race looks like a battle between the man I think is the best player (all-around) in baseball, Paul Goldschmidt, and the two best third basemen in the NL (and along with Josh Donaldson, part of the revival of great 3B play in baseball), Todd Frazier and NoDo.
And last night was a perfect example why this really is a great time in baseball with so many great young players (Nolan just turned 24 in April) doing so many great things. At this point players like Tulo and the Giants on Buster Posey seem like old-timers…if still in the top 10 when playing their best. But right now there are few players who bring the kind of “among the best ever” defensive talent and a still growing offensive game like NoDo.
What I love about Nolan is how we can go from having the worst swing of all time to a great swing. He doesn’t strike-out a ton or walk at this point (K% of just 13.9% and BB% of just 4.4%), and the power is still developing (but wow it has come along a lot from last year when only 2 of his 19 homers were on the road). Of course this is the guy with the longest hitting streak in Rox history last year. So, the offense has been developing. But right now we are seeing the best power and RBI period of his career.
After failing in the 3rd, he didn’t in the 6th. After Chad Bettis allowed a homer in the bottom of the 5th (and in year’s past against Tim Hudson the Rox would then lose 1 or 2-0), when he hit one of the longest homers to left at night I have ever seen at AT&T. It was an abosolute bomb, bringing in Tulo and CarGo in front of him. Score 3-1.
And as good as Bettis looked, that might have been all that was needed (okay, until the 9th of course), but Bettis, whether due to fatigue or whatever, struggled with his control in the 6th, missing just a bit on otherwise good pitches, and allowed a bunch of non-hard hit balls to score 2. Game tied. And personally, I assumed it was a lost opportunity.
But darned if this very determined team didn’t come right back in the bottom of the 7th. This team when it struggles still gets homers (lots of solo shots). When they are playing good, they string hits together. So in the 7th with one-out Charlie Blackmon singled (one of only two regulars without multiple hits…in a 17 hit game), then after a DJ line-out (the only player without a hit, despite hitting the ball very hard), Tulo walked, and then CarGo facing lefty specialist (and one-time Rockie) Javier Lopez looped a double to score Blackmon, putting runners at 3rd and 2nd. After a walk to NoDo, then Ben Paulsen, still facing Lopez, singled through the left-side to plate Tulo and…with a nice slide (still don’t like the no-plate blocking rule because it makes knowing how to get to home very difficult), CarGo (unreversed on replay). Score 6-3.
A solid 7th by Betanourt, and a 1-hit, 8th from Oberg and Logan, the Rox scored another 2 runs in the ninth on a floating triple to left by CarGo, a wild-pitch that scored him before Nolan Lofted another deep fly to left-center. Rox 8-3, great game lets go home.
Except….Tommy Kahnle, who when he is on, is shut-down nasty. Last night…could not throw a strike (he got squeezed on a few…and a few went tot eh backstop). So we had:
Single (on an 0-2 changeup)
And runners at 2nd and 1st.
Now how Walt Weiss leaves Kahnle out there I have no idea. Actually I do. Friedrich’s numbers against righties…thanks to really elevated BABIP I would add…meant you didn’t want to put him in against righties Duffy and Posey. But Hawkins had evidently warmed up a lot the last few days in conjunction with Axford’s struggles. So, its all Kahnle.
And on a 3-2 count Kahnle got him with an 88mph changeup that dove out of the strike zone but Duffy had already swing and missed. So 2 out.
Then we get to face Buster Posey.
And the same scenario. Count go to 3-1 and Kahnle throws an 87 mph changeup that Posey swings and misses.
Count 3-2. Kahnle throw nearly the same pitch and Posey….swings and misses!
Lets just say this. A great game for 8.5 innings and a hideous last 3 outs. But, just saying it, the Rox have suddenly won 5 out of 6.
So, the current 10 game road trip, the Rox are 1-0, and their road record is now 16-18.