The Rockies won about as important as a game as you can win in April yesterday in about as momentum shifting of a fashion as possible. If one of the game's best closers, Craig Kimbrel, gets Dexter Fowler out, as most probably expected he would, the Colorado Rockies would be going into a division rival road trip (@AZ then @LA) having been swept against the two high quality opponents they had faced. Coming into the series, the Braves and Rockies were billed not necessarily as the two best teams in baseball but as at least the teams with the best records. A Braves sweep would have surprised very few. And the Rockies could today be setting out on the road wondering aloud to themselves what many people nationwide have been wondering during their entire hot start; are these guys for real?
But Dexter Fowler hit a double. Tie game. After a 2012 style head-scratcher in the 11th inning the Rockies went all 2013 and actually won the game in the 12th on a walk-off from Yorvit Torrealba, perhaps the Rockies least feared hitter (him or Johnny Herrera.)
And it wasn't just the offense. Chatwood was solid despite some bad defense behind him. But the bullpen was stellar, as pointed out in yesterdays recap (and apparently Sjamb in the comments section) they went a combined 6 innings of 0 run, 2 hit baseball walking only 2 and striking out 7. The offense can't come back and win games against the best teams in baseball if you don't get production from your bullpen and yesterday was about as good as it gets.
Had these events unfolded differently it would be perfectly reasonable to think that the early season success has been a mirage. Like Jeff Aberle, I don't really care, it's just fun to watch. But for a team looking for any reason to believe in itself, yesterday's game is proof positive that they can hit off of anyone. They can even get the offense going when all odds are against them, down 5-3 against probably the most feared bullpen in baseball. The longer the Rockies are thinking to themselves "why not us?" the longer we will be watching quality baseball in the Mile High.
It doesn't matter if yesterday changed the way the national media looks at the Rockies, but it does matter if it changed the way they look at themselves.
Fangraphs' David Laurila has an interesting Q&A with our old friend Jason Hammel, focusing on his increased use of the 2-seam fastball that has helped lead to his more recent success. A similar phenomenon seems to be going on with Patrick Corbin, which I broke down (just the first few paragraphs) in this week's NL West Report . The Rockies will have a chance to damage those numbers in Arizona on Sunday.Off-topic