San Francisco -- A few years ago, when it came to Colorado Rockies prospects, there were only two names worthy of consideration as Top 100 potential Major Leaguers: Jon Gray and Eddie Butler.
Neither made an immediately smooth transition to MLB, experiencing varrying degrees of health issues, bad luck, and bad performance. There has been much debate over whether to blame their youth, Coors Field, the Rockies development staff, dumb luck, or the players themselves just not having what it takes.
But while both still have much to prove, what they showed Rockies fans and brass on this roadtrip is exactly what was envisioned in more optimistic circles those few years ago.
One day after his good friend (Gray) threw arguably his best game at the MLB level, Butler did the same, calmly and quickly cutting through the Giants line-up with confidence.
Butler finished with 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB (one intentional) and 6 K. He worked at a blistering pace and induced countless defensive swings with his sinker and change-up. He now sports an ERA of 3.86.
As has been the ... Story ... lately, the Rockies got their offense early when Trevor Story's double turned into a run on a Nolan Arenado triple off the right field wall. In the third, three consecutive two-out singles from Carlos Gonzalez, Arenado, and Gerardo Parra brought in the Rockies second run of the game.
That was all the Rockies would get and it was all they would need. The combination of Boone Logan, Carlos Estevez, Chad Qualls, and Jake McGee secured the shutout and helped Butler earn his first Win of 2016.
In a stunning turn of events, the Rockies are both pitching well and winning on the road.
The only time the Giants got a runner into scoring position against Butler was in the second when a Hunter Pence double moved Brandon Belt -- who had singled -- to third. With first base open, the Rockies decided to intentionally walk Brandon Crawford who is both a great player and a Rockie-killer.
Butler threw some of his best stuff of the day, getting back-to-back punchouts with the bases loaded on Mac Williamson and Jeff Samardzija to end the threat. He would not allow a runner to get to second the rest of the game.
By the Numbers
11-8: The Rockies moved to 11-8 on the road in 2016. It's early yet, but worth noting that they only have one season (2009) in which they managed to finish with a winning record on the road.
6-4: The Rockies went above .500 on a ten-game NL West trip for the first time in their franchise history. What is perhaps most eye-opening is that they were in every game and with a few breaks here and there might have had an even better trip.
3.28: The Rockies put up a 3.28 ERA on this ten-game roadtrip over 60 innings pitched.
4: Shutouts on the roadtrip. The Rockies had four shutouts as a pitching staff all of last season.
2.25: Boone Logan lowered his season ERA to 2.25, shutting down the Giants in the seventh, allowing one hit and striking out two. He has destroyed left-handed hitting this year, they are now hiting under .160 against him.
.322: Nolan Arenado went 3-for-4, raising his season average to .322 which is doubly impressive when you remember that he still leads MLB in home runs at 11.
It was a great roadtrip for the young Rockies who got some very promising pitching performances from every single member of the current rotation. Now it's time to figure out why they haven't found success at home the way they have been able to on the road.
The Rockies come back home to Denver for a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Monday night features Tyler Chatwood vs. Archie Bradley, first pitch at 6:40 MST.