The Coors Effect

June 19, 2010 12:08 AM

Surprise! Jason Hammel is good

Entering the 2010 season, I thought that the Rockies' rotation depth was excellent.  Jason Hammel, the fifth starter, would be a capable number three starter on a lot of teams.  Most teams would love to get ten wins and a 4.33 ERA out of their third starter, much less their fifth starter.

Then, Hammel came out in his first four starts this season and made me look like an idiot.  Hammel was 0-2 with a 9.16 ERA in April.  Yeah, that wasn't good.  Now, of course, Hammel hasn't allowed a run in his last 25 innings.  Yeah.  7.1 innings of shutout ball -- which Hammel pitched tonight -- is a good way to get a win on a day when your team's best hitter just went on the DL for the next couple of months.

Okay, so tonight Hammel was really more lucky than good.  He loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, only to get out of the jam.  In the fourth, the Brewers had runners on second and third; Hammel had a stroke of good fortune that this situation came with two outs and the pitcher up.  Yeah, the Brewers threatened to score a couple of times, but they never actually did push a run across the plate.

And that was key on a night when the Rockies were without their two best hitters.  We're going to have to get used to not having Tulo around; while Jonathan Herrera got a hit (many on Purple Row thought it would be an error), Clint Barmes did nothing.  And Carlos Gonzalez was out tonight as well.  The Rockies plated one run in the first inning with a two-out rally (Ryan Spilborghs scored on a Brad Hawpe double) and got another in the second on -- get this! -- a suicide squeeze, executed perfectly by Hammel.  Yes, Hammel was the story of the night; he contributed to the scoring and then did everything to make sure that it held up.  And his ERA, after being positively awful early in the season, is now down to 4.03.  That's perfectly fine.

So it's time to see now if Jeff Francis can keep up the positive momentum that was present in the Toronto series, almost nonexistent on Tuesday and Wednesday, but present again last night and tonight.  And, with Tulo out for a while, it's on the pitching staff to carry the Rockies for a while.  I get the feeling we're going to be seeing quite a few more performances like this from the offense over the next few weeks.

Rockies Top Three of the Game

1.  Jason Hammel
: Basically was solely responsible for the Rockies winning tonight.

2.  Brad Hawpe: Well, the above statement would be unfair to Hawpe.  Sometimes, the leadoff hitters are getting on, but nobody is driving them in; tonight, Hawpe was driving them in, except they weren't on base.  Yeah, better production from the top third of the order would have meant more runs -- Hawpe had a pair of doubles.

3.  Rafael Betancourt: One jam I didn't mention was in the eighth inning, when Betancourt came in with runners on second and third and one out and got out of it without allowing a run.  Yes, the pitching carried the Rockies tonight, and it wasn't just Hammel.

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