Jorge De La Rosa continues to dominate, despite a bruised thumb.
Nolan Arenado lined a single back up the middle, scoring Josh Rutledge from second base in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Colorado Rockies their fifth consecutive victory over the Giants at Coors Field.
On Saturday Arenado came through in the clutch, but when a team wins a game 2-1 at Coors Field, the star of the game isn't anyone who is paid to swing a bat.
Once again, as is becoming common place in 2013, Jorge De La Rosa was phenomenal on the mound. Maybe De La Rosa should make sure the bruise on his left thumb doesn't go away. He seems to be nearly unhittable when he is dealing with it while on the mound.
The thumb got bad enough that De La Rosa had to come out of the game after trying to warm up in the 7th inning. To that point, he had given up just one run on six hits. The run came when Buster Posey lined a double into the gap in the 6th inning to tie the game up.
De La Rosa's gem came with no wiggle room. Matt Cain, the Giants starter, has had a rough season by his standards. However, a guy who possesses the stuff that Cain has, it doesn't matter what their record is, or where the ERA sits, he is a guy who still has the talent to get the job done on any given day.
After a 1st and 2nd inning that left the Coors Field crowd feeling like the Rockies might score a ton of runs off of Cain. The Rockies were only able to score one run, but they were getting guys on base frequently. Suddenly, however, Cain figured out how to pitch.
The Rockies had a total of six base runners in the first two innings of the game. That number was still at six when they went to the bottom of the 9th inning. Cain settled down after throwing 40 pitches through two innings and finished with just 105 pitches through eight innings.
With Cain on his game and the Rockies only scoring one run before he settled in, the Rockies simply couldn't afford an outing that was even close to mediocre. They needed an All-Star performance from their highest paid player, and De La Rosa certainly did not disappoint. Despite the bruise on his thumb, he sliced and diced his way through the Giants lineup. When Cain set down the Rockies in order, De La Rosa took it as a challenge and did the same back to the Giants.
It has been said before in 2013, but it needs to be said again. The Colorado Rockies have had far better pitching than anyone had expected them to have. There are still plenty of issues from the starting rotation, and those issues have caused the bullpen to be overworked, and in-turn, had their share of struggles. However, one of the main reasons that the Rockies pitching has exceeded expectations is because of De La Rosa.
The lefty was a huge question mark heading into the season. He had several setbacks in his 2012 return from Tommy John surgery. Many pitchers would have called it quits and figured that their best days were behind them. De La Rosa, however, pushed through and found his way not only back to the big leagues, but back to dominance in the big leagues. His results are a testament to his work ethic, and frankly, to his new found mental strength that he was missing in the early stages of his career. This is suddenly a guy who doesn't crumble when things don't go his way, but instead rises to the pressure and gets better.
Rockies fans may not realize the distance that De La Rosa has come in his career. He was given up on by three organizations, and has now found his home in perhaps the toughest pitchers environment in the league.
De La Rosa was phenomenal, but the work the bullpen did after their starter left early with an injury is worth noting. After struggling mightily due to overuse in June, Matt Belisle came to the mound in the 8th inning after Josh Outman had walked Cain to put runners on second and third base with two out. Belisle didn't let his struggles effect him, he got Andres Torres to bounce back to the mound on a hard slider. He returned in the 8th inning to retire the Giants in order. A collective sigh of relief from the Coors Field faithful could probably be heard at Elitch Gardens down the street.
After a perfect inning from Rafael Betancourt, a good sign after missing nearly a month, it was time for Arenado to work his magic. Before Arenado could knock in the run, Todd Helton had to take a great at-bat and work a walk from Jeremy Affeldt. Josh Rutledge pinch ran for Helton and promptly stole second. A relaxed at-bat from Arenado resulted in the rookie delivering his second walk-off hit of the season.
The walk-off was exciting, but it came courtesy of another phenomenal outing from De La Rosa. Between him and Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies have had a one-two punch over the last month that has been as good as anyone in the National League. That is a good sign for a team that is only two games back of first place, despite a disappointing road trip a week ago.
The Rockies go for the sweep on Sunday with Drew Pomeranz taking the ball for the first time all year against Madison Bumgarner. The two lefties could easily make the series a rare three game set of all pitchers duals.