Baseball is a funny game.
Coming into tonight, the Rockies couldn't score runs on the road and Wilin Rosario couldn't do anything right at the plate; as indicated by his .226 / .254 / .383 (.637 OPS) season line. So of course, Wilin Rosario is the man who comes up with the most productive at bat of the evening in a 6-2 Rockies win in Philadelphia that was delayed at the start by rain for an hour and 22 minutes.
The game changing moment came in the top of the seventh with two outs and runners at the corners following walks by Corey Dickerson and Michael Cuddyer and a flyout to center field by Justin Morneau which moved Dickerson to third base. It appeared as though the Rockies were headed for yet another squandered opportunity as Wilin Rosario, who was 0-for-the-road-trip stepped into the box.
However, he took a whack at the first pitch his saw and launched it the other way into the seats in right field for his fifth jack of the season. It probably isn't a home run in most ballparks, but in Philly, the porch is shallow and the ball cleared the fence.
Just like that, the Rockies had four runs on the board after scoring just nine total runs in their last seven games on the road.
This alone doesn't solve this team's problems away from Coors, and this alone doesn't get Rosario out of his slump, but it did put the brakes on an escalating skid and helped give the Rockies a win they desperately needed.
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This game actually felt like two separate games. One played before Rosario's home run, and another after it.
For a while, this thing had a 2-1 final score written all over it with Jorge De La Rosa and and Cole Hamels matching frames for the the first six innings. Rosario's bomb deserves the headline, but perhaps the most important sequence of night actually came in the bottom of the third inning.
Here, the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out; and worse yet, they did it with the bottom of the lineup. The moment was capped by Cole Hamels bunting for a hit to juice the sacks.
This is where De La Rosa could've easily had a meltdown leading to a huge Philadelphia inning. Instead, he buckled down, got Ben Revere to ground out to Morneau for the first out at home, got Jimmy Rollins to bloop a soft a softly hit ball to first for the second out, and escaped the jam when Chase Utley flew out to deep left field for the final out of the inning.
This swing in momentum carried into the next frame when the Rockies scored a run for the first time in 24 innings. Drew Stubbs and DJ LeMahieu each picked up base hits to start the inning and put runners on the corners before Troy Tulowitzki lined a bullet right at Marlin Byrd in right for a sac fly to get the Rockies on the board. The Phillies were fortunate Tulo's ball didn't go for multiple RBI and extra bases.
After escaping without further damage, Philly got the run right back in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run off the bat of Darin Ruf. But baseball has an old saying about solo home runs: They usually don't beat you, and that proved true again tonight.
Two innings later, De La Rosa wiggled out of a two on and two out jam in the sixth and exited with a line of 6.0 IP, one run allowed on six hits, 4 K's, and 2 BBs. Over his last seven starts, De La Rosa now has a 1.80 ERA, a 6-0 record, and has held opposing hitters to an OPS under .550 and a batting average under .200.
Gone are the early season struggles. Gone is the inability to stay calm in the big moments, and gone are the days where somebody other than Wilin Rosario has to be behind the plate in all of his starts. De La Rosa is pitching like an ace and getting rewarded for it.
There's many ways to stay afloat in baseball race, but one of the best is the have a guy in the rotation who allows you to win almost every time he takes the mound. De La Rosa has been that guy of late, and he's a major reason why Colorado hasn't lost more than three games in a row at any point this season.
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Ben Revere came into this game with 1,562 plate appearances under his belt without ever hitting a home run. Tonight, in the bottom of the seventh inning against Boone Logan, he smacked his first career long ball - Lefty on lefty no less.
To give you an idea of how little power Revere has, Jonathan Herrera by comparison has eight home runs in 1,159 plate appearances.
The event was so shocking, it prompted the folks at the SB Nation Phillies' site to tweet this:
Revere's HR corrected by the official scorer, ruled a 4 base error by the pitcher.— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) May 28, 2014
But once again, it was a solo home run, and solo home runs usually don't beat you.
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The Phillies then made a rather curious move in the top of the eighth inning. They brought in Jeff Manship and his career 6.42 ERA in a two run game, and not surprisingly, it didn't go well for them.
Josh Rutledge led off the frame with a triple that almost left the ballpark, and Drew Stubbs followed with a double that almost left the ballpark. After Stubbs came in to score on a Brandon Barnes ground out later in the inning, the Rockies had two very big insurance runs on the board.
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Even down four, the Phillies still mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth that had potential to get them right back in the game. Fortunately, with two on and one out, the Phillies made another costly decision when they pinch hit Ryan Howard.
The former MVP is ageing in dog years, has only a fraction of the power he did in his prime, can't hit for average, can't play defense, can't run the bases well, can't play a premium position, and has posted a negative rWAR and fWAR over the last three seasons combined. But I haven't even gotten to the worst part yet. The Phillies still owe Howard another $60 million AFTER the 2014 season is over. His contract has turned into baseball's version of a hazardous train wreck.
During the late innings of this game, the Phillies' announcing crew kept oozing excitement talking about how the home team could use Ryan Howard to pinch hit at some point down the stretch in a big moment, and I kept thinking that this was a better thing for the Rockies than it was for the Phillies.
Sure enough, when he pinch hit in what turned out to be Philly's last great chance tonight, he hit a weak ground ball to shortstop, and with Tulo playing there, that's an automatic inning ending double play.
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This game wasn't all good news for the Rockies though. Carlos Gonzalez had to leave in the fifth inning with what's being called a right calf contusion. Add this to a mounting list of issues including knee tendinitis, and a finger problem, and Cargo is really banged up.
I know he'll want to play though it, but it wouldn't shock me if he ended up on the DL at some point soon just so he can get a little healthier. The club has five other capable outfielders healthy right now and Cargo clearly isn't close to 100%.
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With two out and nobody on in the top of the ninth inning, Justin De Fratus plunked Josh Rutledge in what was apparent retaliation for Carlos Ruiz getting hit in the bottom of the eighth inning. Here's a link to what Michael Cuddyer thought of that.
Hopefully cooler heads prevail and this doesn't spiral into anything tomorrow. Wednesday is the last game these teams play all year, and there's no need to start a war with a Phillies club that's going absolutely nowhere this season.
We'll find out how things unfold on this front tomorrow at 5:05 p.m. MT when Jordan Lyles (5-1, 3.45) takes on Roberto Hernandez (2-2, 3.83) in the rubber game of the series. If the Rockies can grab a win here, it would be a huge lift for a team that came into Tuesday's contest just 4-20 in their last 24 games in Philadelphia.
It would be just one little series victory in a marathon 162 game season, but it would also serve as yet another sign that these two franchises are moving in completely different directions.
Games behind: 5.0
Games left: 110
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