Franklin Morales has performed admirably in his role as sixth starter while injured pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Brett Anderson have been out. But there's a reason he's the sixth starter; occasionally games get away from him. So while he has pitched some great outings, he'll give up a dud here or there. Nature of the game. But it's a testament to the Rockies' bats that they can still win some of those duds.
Morales wasn't great tonight in the 8-5 victory. He battled his control all evening; of his 99 pitches, only 57 were in the strike zone. And of those 57 pitches, if felt like 56 of them were squared up. Franklin navigated five innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out two. By no means a good outing. But you know what: he kept us in it. And led by Troy Tulowitzki's offensive exploits, the Rockies jumped all over D'backs pitching to secure the victory.
Tulo is locked in. I honestly haven't seen anything like it since the heyday of Todd Helton. Of Tulo's five plate appearances, he doubled twice, walked twice, and hit a home run. One double was down the left field line, one was to the corner in right, and the home run was to left center. He came about six inches from hitting another dinger in the 9th, but his drive down the left field line hooked just foul. He ended up walking. Tulowitzki's batting line in 2014 is now a stupefying .366/.476/.720. That works out to a 215 wRC+. Oh, and he plays short stop. If he plays 150 games he's going to challenge Mike Trout for the WAR lead.
But it wasn't just the Troy Tulowitzki show. Carlos Gonzalez cracked an RBI double in the first inning; the slump might not be over--he went hitless in his last four at bats--but it's good to see him barrel one up and split the gap. Nolan Arenado slugged two more base hits (running his hitting streak to 18 games) and scored two runs. Justin Morneau demolished a two run homer off lefty starter Wade Miley to finally open up some separation from the D'backs, who had counterpunched throughout the first few innings.
Steady relief work held the game in check. Adam Ottavino finally surrendered his first earned run of the year, but a timely double play ended the threat. It was interesting that Walt Weiss wasn't afraid to bring his best reliever into the game in the seventh inning to face the top of the D'backs lineup. That was probably the highest leverage moment of the game, and while Ottavino wasn't great, it showed excellent thought process to bring him into that situation. I've been very impressed with Weiss's bullpen management.
Tommy Kahnle only required five pitches in his inning of work, and Boone Logan was absolutely dominant with two Ks in his inning. Latroy Hawkins induced two groundballs and a strikeout in his drama-free ninth inning to notch his eighth save.
Colorado has won three of Morales's five starts, and four of Jordan Lyles's five. Pretty dang good for guys that weren't even expected to be starting ball games.
Charlie Blackmon took a rare collar tonight, though he had a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly. No strikeouts, which has been a theme this year.
The Rockies have guaranteed a .500 road trip through the NL West with two more games left to play. Time to secure yet another series victory and really send a message that the Rockies mean business this year.
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