It is easy for a major league baseball player to look good when they are "locked in," whether that is for one game or a streak of games. It is much harder to be a contributor for a player if they are struggling at the plate. For this reason, I want to praise a couple of guys who have been struggling through the first part of the season, but who made huge contributions last night: Todd Helton and Josh Rutledge. These two players are the bottom two of the Rockies regulars in batting average and on base percentage, and they are ahead of only Chris Nelson for slugging percentage. While the rest of the team's batters have started off hot, they have been a little slower to get going.
After his 3 for 4 night on Friday, Todd Helton followed it up with a 2 for 4 night on Saturday and may have fixed any swing issues he had (article from yesterday's Rockpile). The one true Rockie, according to Barry Bloom, hit a timely single and double, but his other at bats were almost equally as important. His first at bat of the game would have been a failure but, by not giving up on a routine ground ball, he was safe at first on Guzman's fielding error. Being on base was huge, as Rosario came up and hit his home run immediately after to give the Rockies a two run lead. His walk on four pitches in the sixth with two outs loaded the bases.
While Helton may be figuring his swing out, Josh Rutledge is continuing to struggle. His insurance home run on Friday is his only hit in the last three games and his early season batting has brought up talk about the sophomore slump. On Saturday night though, his contribution was much greater than the 0 for 5 the box score showed. Twice he came up after Dexter Fowler led off the inning by getting on base and twice he hit into fielder's choices that eliminated Fowler.
However, his hustle kept both plays from turning into double plays and in both instances he came around to score. He played an even greater role in frustrating the Padres pitchers and extending his at bats. Pitchers would like to put away players hitting .214 as quickly as possible. Rutledge didn't allow this to happen, leading the team in pitches seen with 30. His nine pitch walk in the fourth was truly Helton-esque and leads me to believe he will start hitting soon.
As the other Rockies bats inevitably cool down, look for these two Rockies bats to heat up and provide an even keel for the team. With that said, on to the rest of the links:
Cotton: Rockies aim to keep rolling against struggling Padres - Gary previews today's game and the fact that this will be the second time in a week that the Rockies look to sweep San Diego
Harding: Rosario showing improvement behind the dish - Thomas Harding looks at the defensive side of Rosario's game which has been great so far this year in the fact that it isn't an issue. He also states the manager Walt Weiss still has confidence in Wilton Lopez despite the early season struggles.
Walt Weiss sticking with Wilton Lopez as late-inning reliever - More talk about Weiss and his confidence in Lopez with some side talk about Torrealba and Fowler.
Wilin Rosario's career-high four hits pace Rockies - The game wrap at ESPN notes that it was a career night for Rosario who hit his fourth home run of April.
Swydan: You're not as hot as Barry Bonds - Meanwhile, the Rockies continue to be ignored by the rest of the nation as Paul Swydan does not even mention Dexter Fowler in his comparison of this year's hot players to Barry Bonds' April 2004 season. This is despite the fact that he has as many home runs as Justin Upton and Michael Morse; has close to as many base hits as Adam Jones; and has hit safely in as many games as Coco Crisp (these are some of the players he mentions as being hot).