If the Rockies can manage to come back from the All-Star Break with a force like they showed during the Braves series, the team might not be as bad off as the have been. Of course that is a huge if.
For only the third time this season, the Rockies managed to secure a four game winning streak. While mid-season wins can rarely be called timely, these wins showed an ailing fan base that there may be reason to turn on Root Sports or tune into KOA after the All Star Break. The series showed a defensive side of Rockies baseball that rarely comes out to play with the Rockies notching two quality starts behind Chad Bettis and Jorge De La Rosa.
In the series the Rockies outscored the Braves 24-11 and either lead or tied the Braves at every point during the series. The only blemish over the whole series was the ungodly left on base count, a total of 38 in four games; comparatively the Braves only stranded 32.
During the series the Rockies got some very good news for the All-Star Game. DJ LeMahieu got the nod to start at second base after Dee Gordon dislocated his thumb in a game on July 11th and the open roster position allowed for Troy Tulowitzki to find his way into his 5th all-time and 3rd consecutive All-Star Game. While it is less than likely that all three All-Stars, including Nolan Arenado, will be on the field at once, the opportunity for a double play to come at the hands of a few Rockies is reason enough to watch.
— MLB (@MLB) July 12, 2015
Enough fantasizing and back to the series at hand. For the first time in a long while, the team looked like what O’Dowd and Monfort had dreamed of when they put together some of the stars in the lineup. The financial burden duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Tulo managed to plate nine runners behind a few hits, a pair of home runs from CarGo, and a shot from Tulo. On the more surprising end, the other two homers from the Rockies came from Drew Stubbs. Currently five of his 11 hits thus far this season have found their way into the stands.
On the pitching side of the series, the starters were in rare form, provided they weren’t being rained off the field. The series started off rough with the first game needing eight total pitchers to complete and the second game needing six. By the time the last two games came around, the team was able to wrangle in their pitching to much lower numbers. In other news, Rex Brothers is back and is looking scarily like he did last year.
With the All-Star Break starting, the injury report is looking slightly more promising. There is a chance for Brooks Brown and Christian Bergman to return to action, helping out an ailing bullpen. Both Tyler Anderson and David Hale were placed on the DL with Hale being placed on the 15 day and Anderson on the 60.
The victorious finale to first half happened as follows:
Game 1: Rockies 5, Braves 3
Kyle Kendrick probably thanked his lucky stars for this particular outing. After the Braves had a single hit in the top of the first, Alex Wood managed to throw two balls before the skies dumped out as much rain as they could manage. Two hours and six minutes worth of rain-delay later, the Braves would bring in Jake Brigham who would earn his first loss by giving up 10 hits and four runs over four innings pitched.
The Rockies made use of doubles off of Wilin Rosario, CarGo, and Nick Hundley as well as a Drew Stubbs home run and a Sacrifice Fly from Tulo in order to score a total of five runs to earn the victory for David Hale. The Braves were able to score three in the 5th off of a double from Jace Peterson and a sacrifice fly from Cameron Maybin.
The true excitement of the game came from the over use of the bullpen. Due to the rain delay, both starters only made appearances in the first inning. David Hale managed to come in and hold off any runs, but a groin strain sent him off the mound. Six more pitchers tag teamed the rest of the game with only Christian Friedrich allowing any earned runs. Of note was the performance of Rafael Betancourt who managed to strike out three batters in the 7th.
Game 2: Rockies 5, Braves 3
In their second game of the series, the Rockies once again proved that low scoring games can happen at Coors Field. Like the night before, this game had five runs with only a solo home run, though no hit scored more than one run. Also like the prior night, the Rockies managed to go through their bullpen rather fast. Luckily for the fans that were amped up to watch the fireworks, the game was not as much of a deluge as the night before and the game progressed without any rain delays, a rare feat in 2015.
The major concern of the game was the floundering of Boone Logan. While he did get two outs in the 8th before Kahnle had to relieve him, the southpaw showed a lack of confidence. Unfortunately, besides the upcoming return of Brown, there is little that can be done. On the other hand LaTroy Hawkins was able to grind through 5 outs only allowing a single hit. John Axford returned to his normal form, allowing no hits or walks.
Game 3: Rockies 3, Braves 2
With the exception of a horrendous showing by Rex Brothers, the third game of the series was the sort of game that needed to happen. The Rockies have seen a walk off drought this year, but an odd hit from CarGo allowed for Drew Stubbs to bolt to home, securing the win. Cargo was responsible for the other two runs of the game off of a two run shot to center field off of Matt Wisler.
Jorge De La Rosa and the rest of the pitching staff (minus Rex Brothers) managed to put forth a convincing win. Even when the bases were loaded in the top of the 4th, De La Rosa was able to collect himself and get a grounder to end the inning. Between some timely strikeouts and some handy grounders the bullpen was able to clean up their messes. Rex Brothers found his way back up to the majors after being called up to replace Laffey, who was designated for assignment. In his first outing he walked two, threw a potentially costly wild pitch and only got one out. With a pitch count of 15 and only 4 strikes, Betancourt was called in to clear up the mess which he did handily.
The other major issue of the game wasn’t the runs allowed but the runs that could have been. The Rockies left 12 runners on base including multiple runners in scoring position.
Unfortunately Tulo was unable to get a hit, leaving his hitting streak at 21. Luckily his on base streak continued with a walk in the 9th that was critical to cementing a victory with the next at bat.
With the series win in the pocket, all that was needed was one more win to secure the first four game sweep of the Braves in franchise history.
Game 4: Rockies 11, Braves 3
After three low scoring games it was time for the bats to come alive at Coors Field. The first five innings were unremarkable, save for a few hits that scored runs in the 2nd and a dominant performance by Chad Bettis. The tranquility was not to last. Starting with an awkwardly fielded bunt, the Braves were able to score three before a strike out and a fielder’s choice ended their chances. Bettis got off lucky with a Jonny Gomes ground rule double that could have easily scored two as opposed to the one it plated. A route error from CarGo looked to be the downfall of the team.
Or at least it would have been had the Rockies not responded in the bottom of the 6th with five runs. Blackmon hit a two out, two RBI single to bring the Rockies to five runs, and two batters later, Tulo hit a home run to left field to bring the score up to eight. One inning later, a home run from Drew Stubbs would bring home Brandon Barnes to bring the score to 10. Finally, in the bottom of the 8th, Nolan Arenado proved his All-Star potential with a single that brought home DJ LeMahieu.
Due to the All-Star Break, the Rockies were able to bring in Chris Rusin to relieve rather than a member of the overworked bullpen. Rusin was able to limit the Braves to two hits and a walk in his two innings, leaving a tremendous lead for Brothers to play with. Though Brothers did walk Cameron Maybin, that was his only flaw to finish off the game.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 13, 2015
Beginning and End
For the Rockies, this series brought back memories of the start of the year. While the team started off the half with a resounding four game winning streak, the rest of the season tripped up and fell on its face. It figures that the last four games would be a return to the desired form for the team. It is also worth noting that at the time, the other great team in the NL was the Braves, who also fell quite far. The Braves began the series with a 42-43 record and ended with a 42-47. All these wins brought the Rockies back to being 10 games below .500 and 11 games behind LA. While it is not likely, given their track record, that the Rockies can keep up this sort of performance, with a few potential starters down in the minors, the second half could get interesting.
NL West: 39-49, 11 GB of the Dodgers
Games Till All-Star Break: 0
Run Differential: -54
Games Left: 74
Next Series: @ San Diego
7/17 8:10 pm MST: Jorge De La Rosa (6-3, 4.34 ERA) vs James Shields (7-3, 4.01 ERA)
7/18 6:40 pm MST: Chad Bettis (5-4, 4.91 ERA) vs Tyson Ross (6-7, 3.34 ERA)
7/19 2:10 pm MST: TBD vs Andrew Cashner (3-10, 4.10 ERA)