Saturday, April 11, 2009

4/12/09 - COL 4, PHI 8 - "In Absentia"

There are 162 Rockies games in a season, and it’s unreasonable to expect to get to watch them all live. Life intervenes, after all. Sometimes, other things take precedence. But there’s still a certain helplessness that I feel every time the Rox are on and I’m otherwise occupied. I think it’s because the Rockies are a part of my daily routine from April through September/October, and I’m always uneasy whenever my routine is shaken.

When I had internet on my phone, I would check a score roughly 137 times each game, the number only varying based on how appropriate it was to use a phone at the time. But now that I don’t have that option, when in a social setting I have to do my best to fight the temptation to text “Got a Rox score?” to a friend or walk through the bar area of a restaurant to try and see the score on ESPN’s bottom line.

Tonight was one of those nights – in a strange town, at a house that wasn’t receiving the game (thanks, Bresnan Cable!), at a restaurant that wasn’t showing the game. MLB’s Gameday took me through the first four innings, but as Jorge de la Rosa imploded in the fifth inning and the Rockies bullpen made things worse drip by drip in what would become an 8-4 loss, I tried to pretend it wasn’t bothering me that the only chance I had to see a score was to squint at the TV every five minutes.

After yesterday’s home opening thumping of reigning World Series MVP Cole Hamels and the Phillies, optimism abounded, and had I had an internet connection I’d have joined the chorus of voices telling all of you readers, “Hey, the Rockies are going to be good.” And they are. Maybe not great, maybe not a playoff team, but a good team, one who will win more than they lose as long as they get passable starting pitching and execute as they have thus far with runners in scoring position.

Today’s loss shouldn’t dampen that enthusiasm for the 09 Rox in the slightest, just like yesterday’s win really shouldn’t have increased it as much as it seemed to. The Rockies could only manage four hits, although three of them were long balls, including another one from Troy Tulowitzki, who really seems bound and determined to eclipse the 24 jacks he hit in his rookie season.

But pitching doomed the Rockies on this night. Jorge de la Rosa was cruising until Garrett Atkins couldn’t make a throw on a hot smash by Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the third inning. This is where de la Rosa frustrates – faced with adversity, he has an unfortunate tendency to shrink from the occasion rather than rise to it. Three batters later, Ryan Howard was clearing the bases with a mammoth double to center. De la Rosa had similar trouble getting out of an inning in the fifth, and gave up a two-run triple that ended up providing Philly’s winning run.

Many of the stories surrounding the 09 Rockies are dealing with a renewed mental toughness. If de la Rosa ever gets that memo, he could be a very important part of the rotation.

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