Well, yeah, they can blow people out, but can they win the close ones? This one they did. The Rockies jumped out to an early lead thanks to Todd Helton's first homer of the year and a homer and a triple by Brad Hawpe. After getting out of trouble in the first and cruising through the rest of the early innings, Aaron Cook coughed up most but not all of the lead in the fifth. A Hawpe RBI groundout provided an insurance run in the seventh that would turn out to be pivotal, as Brian Fuentes gave up a Shawn Green homer before finishing off Arizona for his first save of the young season. And that's four in a row on the road.
It was interesting to watch the Rockies' change in approach at the plate after their loss to Orlando Hernandez last week. Colorado still didn't do a lot of walking, and they struck out six times against El Duque, seven total, but part of the problem against Hernandez and Miguel Batista last week at Coors was that the young Rockies hitters were being too patient -- the D-Backs' starters were getting ahead 0-1 and 0-2 just by throwing weak fastballs to the outer half of the plate for called strikes. Then Colorado would give up the third strike chasing. In this game, the Rockies appeared to attack El Duque much more than the other way around, and Ray King and Jose Mesa did fine work passing the lead from starter Cook to closer Fuentes. Nice little win, really. Hawpe and Helton were the big stars, but Garrett Atkins (NL Player of the Week Garrett Atkins) reached base twice and backup catcher Miguel Ojeda took advantage of his starting assignment with a hit and two walks. Jamey Carroll, starting in place of Clint Barmes, was 0 for 5. Matt Holliday had a double and an outfield assist. Clint Hurdle let the hot bat of Jason Smith ride with another start at second base, but Smith was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Let's not bail out on Luis Gonzalez quite yet.
If you want to look for things to be worried about, and we do, Colorado did a poor job against Arizona's dicey middle relief corps, managing just one run against Terry Mulholland while earning not a hit off of Juan Cruz, Jason Grimsley, and Brandon Lyon. It's nice to have setup guys and a closer who can get the job done with a one-run lead, but it's even nicer to make sure it's not even an issue by pounding in runs against the worst part of every team's pitching staff. In any event, every starter in the rotation except for Jeff Francis has a win under his belt now, and Francis will get his chance tomorrow. The Rockies hitters get another look at Miguel Batista, who made them look very bad his last time out. With Colorado's hot start just beginning to get noticed nationally, let's not surrender the momentum.