Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies Find Success Through Struggles

The "Little Pony" has come up short in 2011, earning the "little" in his nickname. But the Rockies are making sure he still gets to celebrate at the end of the day more often than not.

The Rockies are winning a few games this April they lost in 2010. That much is certain. Four consecutive two-run comebacks at Citi Field. They went 4-0 in one road trip in games started by Greg Reynolds or Esmil Rogers. Last night, they won a game in which they were outhit 11-4, with one hit being a bunt single and two others as groundballs nearly snagged by pitcher Matt Garza.

Okay, so as much as I'd like to, I can't credit the Rockies for the win last night. They did indeed execute defensively in tough conditions far better than the Cubs, so there is credit there for an errorless performance. But that win was gift-wrapped in every way, and that's okay. You don't win a division without a few of those.

So the win itself was nice, but there is little to glean confidence from. One such area that qualifies is Esmil Rogers, the young fifth starter who had gone from ace quality to perfectly decent to horrendous to an unmitigated disaster since his first start. Fifth starters by nature have readymade lynch mobs before the season starts, but the masses were growing restless by Rogers' second consecutive painful first inning.

Yet Rogers didn't mail it in as he did in his last start. Despite being in enemy territory in poor conditions, Rogers rebounded to throw 4.1 scoreless innings afterwards, qualifying for the win, nearly earning a "quality start" and even scoring the winning run. Just as teams need to find ways to win close games when they don't deserve them, young starters need to learn to grind out a decent start when they have poor stuff early. It took Jason Hammel and Jorge de la Rosa quite a while. Perhaps Rogers is learning that lesson.

Speaking of winning games undeserved, the Rockies have just 37 hits in their last seven games, and 13 of those came Wednesday...yet they have ground out a 3-4 record in that time. It started with Tim Lincecum's no-hit bid, which was broken up by Carlos Gonzalez on a clean single to right. Since then, Gonzalez has gone 0-for-21.

2011 - Carlos Gonzalez 21 83 12 18 3 0 1 14 7 21 3 0 .217 .272 .289

Troy Renck wrote that Troy Tulowitzki know CarGo's pain, and honestly, I thought he was referring to Tulo's current slump. Since that Lincecum start, Tulo is just 6-for-28 with no walks himself, good bad for a .222/.222/.333 slash line in the past seven games, hardly better than CaGo's season line.

Gonzalez will snap out of it, and when does, the Rockies' offense will be significantly more dangerous. Colorado needs his bat, but at least they can win games without it.

Off Topic


Coming Tuesday: April Farm Report | Inside the Colorado Rockies
Be sure to check out Jack Etkin's work if you are interested in Rockies' prospects. Rex Brothers, Darin Holcomb, Edwar Cabrera, Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco are highlighted in today's farm report, coming soon.

Looking at the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers and beyond
Curious how the next few years might play out with the Dodgers? Check out Vince Caramela's piece for The Hardball Times.

 Born just a month apart, the Rockies' Matt Holliday and - 04.23.07 - SI Vault
This might be an unnecessary gouge, as it is a reminder about how fickle a certain superstar future might be. Four years ago Saturday:

Born just a month apart, the Rockies' Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins think alike, are built alike and--most important as they enter their prime--mash alike

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