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Wednesday Rockpile: Swing for the Fences, Ian!

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Sorry this Rockpile is late, Rowbots, as I had a 7 am final today. Only one more (tomorrow at 7 am) until summer can start!

The big story in last night's 12-1 beatdown of the Astros was the two-homer night of Ian Stewart, as well as the continuation of Brad Hawpe's blistering start. Of course, Felipe Paulino is hardly a major-league quality pitcher, but the offensive outburst by the Rockies was certainly encouraging to see, as was the stellar pitching of Ubaldo Jimenez. As Jack Etkin notes, the Rockies pitchers' 2.65 May ERA leads the NL--making Colorado's 5-6 May record even more troubling. The Rockies have an opportunity to equal their season-long winning streak (three games) tonight and to take their record for the month to .500.

Etkin also writes that despite Stewart's success last night, he is still hitting only .211 and has 24 strikeouts in only 71 ABs (14 of them, including his last 8, looking). What's that old adage? You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Clint Hurdle puts it well within the article:

"The way he played through spring training, the first two weeks of the season, it’s almost like somebody pulled the plug on him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "That’s what him and I talked about. I said, ‘You got to bring something, whether it’s on the bases, defensively but swing the bat. Two strikes--open the field up. Swing the bat.’ "

If Stewart takes the advice of baseball sage Dave Garcia, he'll be just fine.

I’m not the hitting coach here, but I want to tell you guys something.’ " Garcia said. " ‘Don’t let a fastball strike hit the catcher’s glove.’

In other Rockies' news, Garrett Atkins is still struggling, and he thinks it's his swing. I think it is his swiftly declining bat speed that is problematic. Either way, Atkins is a dead weight offensively and defensively right now for the Rockies.

Meanwhile, Tulo's quad feels much better, which is great news for the Rockies, especially given his recent hot streak.

Troy Renck writes about the inconsistency of run support that Rockies pitchers have received this year--in wins they have received 8.1 runs and in losses just 2.9.

Finally, Etkin chimes in with a medical update on several Rockies. Greg Smith will make his first rehab start Thursday in Modesto where he will be joined by Ryan Speier. Franklin Morales and Taylor Buchholz also look to be on schedule to return fairly soon. News isn't so good for Greg Reynolds, who hasn't thrown in over a month and still hasn't been formally diagnosed.