The Rockies ended their homestand strong, taking two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals this week. By besting the team that boasts Major League Baseball’s best record, the Rox emerged from last place in the NL West for the first time since May 3.
Game 1: Rockies 11, Cardinals 3- The Rox exploded for 16 hits in a rout of St. Louis in game one of the three game series. Every Rockies starter besides pitcher David Hale recorded a hit in the win. Colorado got to Cardinals’ starter John Lackey early by scoring five runs in the first inning. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run home run to open things up, and was followed by RBI singles from catcher Nick Hundley and outfielder Brandon Barnes. After the Cards got one back in the fourth to make the score 5-1, the Rox responded with another five run inning in their half of the fourth. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who’s been on a tear lately, hit an RBI double to score outfielder Charlie Blackmon. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez then knocked in LeMahieu with a sacrifice fly. Third baseman Nolan Arenado made the game 9-1 when he hit his team-leading 14th long ball of the year, a two-run shot that plated Tulo. An error by Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter on a Hundley ground ball allowed Rockies’ first baseman Ben Paulsen to score to give Colorado a 10 spot.
Although Hale failed to record a hit, he was effective where it mattered- on the mound. He went seven innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits while walking none and striking out seven en route to his second victory of the season. After he exited, the bullpen took over and the Rockies hit cruise control on their way to a blowout win.
Game 2: Rockies 4, Cardinals 3- The Rockies came out on top after a pitching duel of a game between The Rockies’ own Jorge de la Rosa and Cardinals rising star Michael Wacha. Wacha, who was handed only his second loss of 2015 in the contest, pitched great. He struck out 10 Rockies in his 6.2 innings of work. But de la Rosa was better. In seven innings pitched, he allowed only three hits and two earned runs, while walking two and punching out eight. He earned the win in the contest.
St. Louis opened up the scoring with runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Rockies responded with two in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game, courtesy of Arenado’s 15th homer of the year, a two run shot that scored CarGo. The Rox took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh after an RBI double by LeMahieu scored first baseman Wilin Rosario. CarGo later plated LeMahieu with an RBI single of his own.
The Rockies called on reliever Boone Logan to take the mound after de la Rosa exited, but the Cardinals got to him quick, with Peter Bourjos hitting a solo shot to make the score 4-3. Scott Oberg replaced Logan and pitched a scoreless rest of the eighth. In the ninth, the Cardinals got a new taste of The Ax Man, as closer John Axford has regularly faced St. Louis during his time in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. Axford shut things down and earned his 11th save in as many opportunities.
Game 3: Rockies 2, Cardinals 4- With Chad Bettis on the mound, the Rockies couldn’t complete the sweep and dropped the final game of the series, due in part to Bettis pitching at less than peak form. He went five innings and allowed three runs. Not terrible, but not up to par with what Bettis has been doing lately. It was a quiet day offensively for the Rockies as well, as they couldn’t get on the board until they scored their first runs in the seventh inning. Down 3-0, Paulsen hit his fifth homer of the season to make the game 3-2. But the Cardinals got an insurance run (which they wouldn’t need) in the eighth off Colorado reliever Tommy Kahnle to make the score 4-2. Afte Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez exited, the Rox were dumbfounded by St. Louis’ bullpen, as they failed to record a hit in the final 2.2 innings of the game.
A Resurge by the Resilient Rockies?: A few short weeks ago, the Rockies were comfortably in the cellar of the NL West. Tulo and CarGo continued to be mediocre, and the pitching staff was crumbling. But now, with an impressive series win vs the Cardinals, the Rockies are only three games under .500 and are out of last place.
They travel to Miami to face the Marlins for a four game series in which they’ll hope to continue their push to the right side of .500. Chris Rusin takes the hill for Colorado. First pitch is at 5:10 PM MST.
Contact CU Independent Rockies Beat Writer Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo