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Wednesday Rockpile: Rockies Win, Lose Morales to Shoulder Injury

Last night the Colorado Rockies snapped their four game losing streak with a 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks, getting 15 hits in the process, including several with two outs and runners in scoring position. They also received help from an unlikely trio. Brad Hawpe avoided being the goat with his two out, two RBI single in the pivotal four run sixth inning. As Tracy Ringolsby writes, there were several positive signs in last night's victory, including Todd Helton's first home run of the year in the eighth--which gave the Rockies' relievers a valuable cushion. With the win, the Rockies equaled in 2009 their 2008 win total against the Diamondbacks (3).

However, the big news of the game was the left shoulder muscle strain that caused Franklin Morales to leave his second start of the year before the third inning of play. Morales described the pain as being in his lat area. According to Thomas Harding:

Morales suffered the injury on a single warmup pitch, so there wasn't a warning. The Rockies listed Morales as "day-to-day." If he can't make his next start, a candidate could be righty Jason Hammel, who was a starter and reliever with the Rays the last three seasons.

Despite the listing of Morales as day-to-day, the southpaw is likely to land on the DL with his shoulder injury and will likely be replaced by AAA reliever Matt Daley, who has had a strong start to the season--per Ringolsby, he has a 1.13 ERA in five relief appearances for the Sky Sox, having allowed one run on seven hits and only one walk while striking out 15 in eight innings..

Meahwhile Hammel, after his poor first outing, has rebounded somewhat in his last two outings, pitching two scoreless, two-inning, one-hit outings. Hammel would like to start, but at this point he is just happy to be wanted by the Rockies.

Almost lost in the shuffle of the victory last night was the fact that Troy Tulowitzki was not happy about his benching, though he did enter the game as a pinch-hitter and as a defensive replacement. In the notes of that article, Renck explains the manifestation of Ryan Speier's hamstring injury, the one that saved Matt Belisle's roster spot for now.

After using their bullpen for seven innings last night, the Rockies need Jorge De La Rosa to pitch deep into this afternoon's game. Jorge faces a tough opponent in Dan Haren, and will need to be on his game to win. The game won't be televised today, one of 12 this year that FSN-RM won't cover.

Finally, in the spirit of not panicking yet, Renck cites the tough schedule to start the season to explain the Rockies' rough start. Here's his take:

The starters owned a 5.63 ERA heading into Tuesday night's game and have failed to reach the sixth inning five times. The bullpen is saddled with a 6.35 ERA and has struggled to keep the ball in the park (11 home runs).

Can't say I am shocked, because all spring there were issues. For me, it's pretty simple. The pitching staff must aspire to mediocrity — keeping the opponent from scoring first would be a great place to start — and the hitters must mash like monsters for this team to be competitive.

Renck recommends suspending evaluation of the team until May 15th, when the Rockies have played 17 home games. To an extent, I agree with this, as the Rockies really have had a tough beginning to the year. However, the Rockies need to show me they can compete at home against the Dodgers before they allay my concerns about their chances of winning the division.