Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can you Say Playoff Maturity

Last night, the Colorado Rockies could not have displayed more maturity than what they did. This game went to extra innings tied at 1 with the San Francisco Giants, one of those teams that are favored to catch the Rockies and keep them from taking the wild card. There is only one problem with that prediction, the Giants just dropped 3 of 4 to the Rockies. Yes the Giants were not able to out duel the Rockies last night. This game didn't just go one extra frame, but 5 extra frames, in the top of the 14 the Giants posted 3 runs making the score 4 to 1 a score that many would have thought would finish the Rockies. Maybe a few years ago this would have been enough to stop the Rox but not this year, in the bottom of the 9 the Rox were down 3 when the Giants pitcher Merkin Valdez found himself in the game with the bases loaded and he walked Rockies Pitcher Adam Eaton to bring in one run making the score 4-2 with Ryan Spilborghs coming to the plate. Spilborghs was getting a second opportunity after blowing his first in the bottom of the 10th, this time was different however. In the Bottom of the 14th with 1 out in an
0-1 count with the bases loaded, Ryan Spilborghs turned on a 96 mph fastball from Valdez launching a walk of Grand Slam into the bullpen in right center field propelling the Rockies to a 6-4 win over the Giants. This set the Rockies 4 games above the Giants in the NL Wild Card race and 3 games behind the division leading Dodgers, which the Rockies now face for a 3 game set at Coors Field.

It is important to see that the Rockies were facing a team last night that was for the most part faced with a must win situation and this meant that the Rockies were going to leave it all on the field no matter what it took to move to a 4 game lead in the Wild Card. I think it is important to see that players up and down the lineup for the Rockies were competing stride for stride with the Giants and when faced with the "do or die" situation late in the 14th the "Mile High Boys" stepped up and showed just what they were made of. There were several times throughout the game that big plays needed to be made and guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Yorvit Torrealba, Ian Stewart and the Rockies Bull Pen were right there waiting to make them. It seemed to me that in 2007 it seemed to be that one guy was stepping up every night to get the job done and propel them to that next magical win, but this year I feel is far different. Look at when these young men came under the reins of Jim Tracy, they were at the lowest of lows but quickly crawled out of that dark hole they had fallen into. The Rockies began this come back much earlier than they had in 2007 which meant that relying on one person each night to carry the team was highly unlikely. This year it isn't just one guy getting the job done but it seems to be a team effort and when needed someone tends to pick up the slack. This year in 2009 the Rockies have 4 of 5 starters in double digit wins which also is a sign that it isn't just one or two guys getting it done. These guys are legit, and I think it is high time someone recognizes what they are doing as a mature run at the playoffs not just a lucky streak put together by some young bucks right out of AAA Colorado Springs. The Rockies of 2009 are getting the job done from the starting line up to the bench and closer roles. Coming of the bench the Rockies have a solid lineup of players that would start in other organizations but here they are what they call in baseball "clutch players" and then coming out of the bullpen games are generally handed from the starter in the 7th or 8th to a very capable pitcher by the name of Rafael Betancourt who has the stuff of a closer. Betancourt with his often lights out stuff guides the Rockies from the 8th to the 9th where manager Jim Tracy wastes no time in going to his closer Huston Street who has racked up 33 saves out of 34 opportunities. This guy just like Ubaldo Jimenez is not getting the recognition he deserves, look at the great Jonathan Papelbon of the Boston Red Sox what has he done, 29 saves out of 32 chances. I don't think this adds up, he has blown 3 chances and still is the best, what about Mariano Rivera he has 36 of 37 only blowing one save, if I am not mistaken Street and Rivera have the same Save Percentage yet no one makes reference to Street being one of this years best closers! I just don't get it, I guess we are just to expect the Rockies to slip into the playoffs as the underdog and take everyone by surprise!

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