All Hail Aaron Cook, the man who outpitched Roy Oswalt!
Position: 1st NL West
Games Back: --
Magic Number: 125
Aaron Cook pitched his way into the seventh inning tonight, striking out 6, walking only 2 and allowing only 5 hits. The only run earned off of Cook came in the bottom of the 6th inning, when Preston Wilson hit an RBI single to bring home Mike Lamb. Another excellent start from Cook, showing more and more that Cook might be the anchor of the starting rotation that brings this team to victory.
The Rockies' 2 runs both came in the 3rd inning, from Luis González (driving in Danny Ardoin) and Todd Helton (bringing Cory Sullivan home). The team left 7 on base tonight, an improvement from the 11 last night, but still far more than should be stranded. To compare, Houston only left 6 on base. This shows that the Rockies CAN hit well (no fooling?), which is a good start, but the consistency is becoming more and more of an issue.
To add to the good news, Todd Helton went 2-4 tonight, and his average is slowly creeping up (currently sitting at .317). Matt Holliday extended his hitting streak to 8 games, and Ramon Ramirez was flawless again, pitching 2 1/3 innings tonight to pave the way for closer Brian Fuentes. Ray King got the lefty he faced to fly out, before being pulled in favor of Ramirez. Brad Hawpe went 2-4 tonight, having been hitless in his last 3 games. Also, Danny Ardoin extended his hitting streak to 4 games, having safely hit in 6 of the last 8 games played. Additionally, Ardoin has broken back above the Mendoza line, finally!!! Break out the champagne, folks, I'm hoping this means Ardoin may someday reach .250!!!
Oswalt pitched an excellent game as well, pitching 7 innings and striking out 4. (By the way, I called Oswalt going 7+ innings, striking out 5, and allowing maybe 1-2 ER, I'd say I pegged that pretty well!)
While the Rockies won tonight, I'd credit this game almost exclusively to the pitching staff. The Rockies bats were quiet tonight, but one would expect no less from Roy Oswalt. Both bullpens were perfect, and this pitchers duel surprisingly came down to the 3rd inning, where Colorado put its two tallies on the scoreboard. Well, perhaps not surprisingly, judging by how well the bullpen has been pitching (up until recently).
The strength of this team, as has been noticed throughout this season, is clearly the bullpen. King has been improving of late, having not had a run earned since April 23rd, and with the exception of last night, Scott Dohmann has been great since April 19th. And David Cortes has been all but perfect, still holding an ERA of under 1.50. Tom Martin's ERA, however, has jumped up to 6.00, and he has not pitched in a winning endeavor since April 18th against San Diego. Mesa has allowed runs his last 3 appearances as well, pushing his season ERA from 0.55 to 4.15. Every pitcher slumps, but when Mesa slumps, he slumps hard. His last two appearances resulted in 3 runs being scored, including what would prove to be a game-winning 3-run homer from a certain Albert Pujols. (But can you really blame him? It's Albert Pujols.)
I have faith that the bullpen will hold, and we just need to wait and see the bats start coming back around (looking at You, Barmes), and the bullpen will have some room to breathe in games.
Coming up tomorrow, Jeff Francis (2-2, 3.16) will take the mound against the banged-up Andy Pettitte (2-4, 5.66). Pettitte, over his last 3 starts, has an ERA of 8.33 and a WHIP of 1.98. Here's to hoping the Rockies will be able to give the pitchers some run support tomorrow, considering Pettitte's struggles, and be able to take another series from the Astros. (I'd like to think that beating their ace in a 2-run effort is something that might break their spirits). As for now, it's time to sign off, so Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!