After ruining what was supposed to be a World Series celebration for the San Francisco Giants yesterday, the Colorado Rockies followed it up with another strong performance and won their second straight road series to start the season. Their 5-0 road record to start the year is the best in club history and has them already almost a quarter of the way to their 21 road wins in 2014. Christian Bergman was effective in a spot start and the bullpen allowed just one run in five innings of work, maintaining their 1.80 ERA on the year.
Offensively, the Rockies were held to a season low nine hits, though that total to go with four runs is something I'll gladly take every time on the road in chilly San Francisco. Corey Dickerson paced the offense in this one, going 3-for-4 with a triple while improving his season slash line to an impressive .406/.441/.750. DJ LeMahieu also added a line drive single in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
The biggest story from tonight, however, was the continued fantastic pitching out of the bullpen. Christian Bergman needed 85 pitches to make it through four scoreless innings and likely was not fully stretched out, forcing manager Walt Weiss to go to his bullpen early. As has been the case all season, they were up to the task. In their five innings of work, the Giants managed just two hits: a dribbler down the third base line off the bat of Nori Aoki in the fifth inning and a bloop single from Angel Pagan in the eighth. Rookie Scott Oberg got the win in his major league debut, and Adam Ottavino looked absolutely dominant in the ninth, striking out the side en route to his first save of the season.
The even better news about the bullpen is that it wasn't just one night of good pitching—they have been superb all year. After tonight's performance, the Rockies bullpen on the season has thrown 30 innings, allowed 15 hits, walked just five, struck out 33, and posted a minuscule 1.80 ERA and 0.67 WHIP. The only real concern about the bullpen at this point is the workload that they're being asked to shoulder. With 30 innings pitched in just eight games, the bullpen is on pace to throw 607 innings this season. That's about 70 innings more than the NL-leading Chicago Cubs threw in 2014, and will almost certainly cause them to tire and lose effectiveness over time. Hopefully the return of Jorge De La Rosa and continued growth from guys like Tyler Matzek and Eddie Butler will help to alleviate this and keep the bullpen fresh late into the season.
There was also a defensive play in this game that you may have heard something about. In the eighth inning, Gregor Blanco hit a foul pop-up down the third base line with two men on base and nobody out. Enter Nolan Arenado. His over-the-shoulder catch while tumbling over the tarp had Twitter buzzing:
If you didn't just see the play Nolan Arenado made, do yourself a favor and seek out the highlight. My goodness.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) April 15, 2015
3B Nolan Arenado made play I don't recall anyone making at this park, a crazy catch above the tarp way up line. Plus great throw. Wow.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) April 15, 2015
Nolan Arenado … UNREAL. Video and GIFs coming shortly.— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2015
In case you missed it, here's the play for you to watch on loop until the game starts tomorrow night:
#THIS. On LOOP for days. https://t.co/9DajZP3ZeR— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2015
There were several other great plays from the Rockies defense as well. Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon each made jumping catches on the warning track, Nick Hundley continued to do a great job blocking pitches (he hasn't allowed a passed ball all season), and LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki were strong up the middle. Good pitching and strong defense can carry you a long way, and when you add in the potent Rockies lineup and the brilliant work done by Walt Weiss so far, it's really hard not to like the potential of this team.
Tomorrow night, the Rockies will give the ball to Tyler Matzek as they go for their second straight road sweep. The last time they swept the Giants in San Francisco, they won just six of their next 45 road games. With the way this team looks so far, I like their chances of doing better than that this time around.