Lots of bests and firsts in this one. Probably the hottest game the Rockies have played thus far on the year. Their best showing on the road all season. Jeff Francis's best road start in his career. Danny Ardoin's first major league home run. Francis's first career extra-base hit.
Francis looked like the savvy vet and Jeff Suppan the rookie as five Colorado hitters had multi-hit games (leadoff man Cory Sullivan, Garrett Atkins, who also homered, Brad Hawpe, Ardoin, and Francis himself). The Rockies' bullpen, which isn't young but is at least cheap, was extremely efficient in maintaining the big lead with which Francis left in the sixth. Dan Miceli looks like a great midseason pickup, and Jay Witasick and David Cortes are having fine years. Colorado did hit into four double plays, but look on the bright side -- at least they regularly had runners on base.
I think this game should be taken as a reminder of what it is we need to be prioritizing going into selloff season. The Rockies' offense is not very good, but at least we have guys like Sullivan, Hawpe, and Atkins who have upside and plenty of years to develop it. Colorado has strung together a surprisingly efficient bullpen using spare parts, something that would be even easier if the club ever caught a whiff of contention. What we need is starting pitching. Francis is the only guy on the ML roster right now whom I expect to be in the rotation of a Colorado division title winner two, three years down the road, unless you consider the intriguing possibility of making Marcos Carvajal a starter. No making any deals unless there's at least one AA or AAA starter candidate in the mix.
One name I'd like to throw out there is Oakland's Juan Cruz, a guy who's been a bust as a middle reliever in the majors because it just takes him too long to get into game mode. Cruz throws hard and had limited success as a starter for the Cubs a few years ago. If the A's still want Joe Kennedy, Cruz recently was sent to Sacramento to start after a disastrous stint with the big club. Cruz's fragile psyche might be poorly suited for Coors Field, but you don't know until you try. The Orioles on the other hand aren't going to trade Hayden Penn, and they really have nothing interesting beyond him. The Rockies need to keep working on the Cubs (for Rich Hill and/or Todd Wellemeyer) or reestablish contact with Boston (for any one of a number of guys). Message to Dan O'Dowd: If you see Brian Cashman's name on the caller ID, hang up.
You can't vote for the All-Star Game any more, at least until the 32nd man poll starts after Sunday's selection show. Who will be the Rockies' lone representative? There are at least a few worthy candidates I can think of -- Garrett Atkins, Brian Fuentes, Jay Witasick, Jeff Francis as a longshot. What do the experts say? SI.com's John Donovan likes Atkins. How can he name six Yankees to his team though? Joe Torre's not even the manager this year. CBS SportsLine has Preston Wilson. What season are they watching?