Rockies 12, Braves 3 + Ubaldo Rumors
All I asked in yesterday's post is that the Rockies win one game against the Braves, and I said that this game was most likely to be it. I think they agreed with me, because they played this game as if they'd never have a chance to win again. I hope that doesn't mean they intend to go quietly in the rest of the series, but if they do, at least this won't be a sweep!
So much great stuff last night. Ubaldo Jimenez looked like he knew exactly what he was doing from the get-go, and the importance of this return to confidence cannot be underestimated. When he's got it, his control of the game is brilliant. He did allow 2 walks and 7 hits in his 6 2/3 innings, but got key strikeouts whenever he needed them. In fact, 4 of his innings ended with a strikeout, and he punched out 9 total. If anybody is still griping that Ubaldo doesn't hit 99 mph much anymore, I can't hear you. He doesn't need to throw that hard to be dominant, because everything else he does is so smart. The only runs he allowed came on two solo homers by Dan Uggla. One was on an 83-mph slider and the other was on a 94-mph fastball, so? Ubaldo just happened to miss a couple of spots to the same guy. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he left the game, and he well deserved it.
There was some offense from the Rockies too. Their bats feasted on poor Brandon Beachy, a rookie who hasn't quite reached Jair Jurrjens status yet. The Rox were already leading 3-0 at the end of the 1st, thanks to a well-timed home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Whenever he does that, you understand what he's trying to do the rest of the time. One of these days he won't be quite so anxious to go yard and he'll stop hitting weak grounders in clutch situations so often. For now, as long as he gets those homers from time to time, he's still earning his keep. Carlos Gonzalez followed that up with a 2-run shot in the 2nd. It was his best swing since coming back from his wrist injury, the kind where he can feel the power going through the wood and doesn't run right away because he knows it's gone.
Other contributors: Todd Helton had a hit and 2 walks and scored all three times. Seth Smith contributed a double and a triple, driving in 3 runs altogether. Dexter Fowler went 3-for-4 with a walk, and one of his hits was a bases-clearing triple. Ian Stewart was hitless but smacked a couple of very long fly balls and also drew two walks, one of which was intentional (pitchers are scared of him again!!). Chris Iannetta also drew a couple of walks and hit an RBI double. Even Ubaldo hit a single!
Every time the Rockies have this kind of game I say: now what we need to do is string a bunch of these together. And that's what never happens, which is why we are 10 1/2 games back in our division. I don't want to be a downer, but our 2011 track record indicates that we follow these statement wins with whimpering losses. Today's game will be interesting, since it's a rematch of a game in Atlanta a couple weeks ago: Tim Hudson vs. Juan Nicasio. Can Nicasio keep from melting down this time? The better question is probably whether the hitters can find a way to take some momentum from yesterday and keep it all going.
Ok, as I have said, I loathe trade talk, but people keep asking me what I think about the Ubaldo rumors, and I suppose the responsible blogger thing to do is weigh in. A friend of mine who's a Twins fan emailed me the other day to ask what I thought, and this is what I told him:
I can tell you that the Ubaldo rumor has been WAY over-inflated by the national media, especially ESPN. Once the Yankees expressed interest it became much bigger than it really was, as anything involving the Yankees usually does. Our starting rotation is too unstable for us to give up Ubaldo. Jorge de la Rosa is out for this season and part of next year, Aaron Cook came off the DL in June and hasn't won a game since, and Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio are very talented but very young. Jason Hammel is a good #4 or 5 starter, but he's not ace material. All these are reasons we need Ubaldo or someone who can perform at the level he's performed at this season, which is to say not perfect but very well. Because Ubaldo is ace material, he's worth more than the average player, so we would want at least two, probably three in exchange. One would have to be ready to step into the starting rotation immediately and win often. The second would have to be a top-quality prospect, probably a pitcher as well. One of our recent first-round picks, Tyler Matzek, is kind of floundering in A ball, so I could see us going for someone who could ultimately take his spot. And any team looking to get Ubaldo could sweeten the pot by throwing in a middle infielder who can hit. That's where I think we're at. But again, it is VERY unlikely. If nothing else, I think the front office still believes we are in the post-season hunt, and so they're not going to auction off anybody major in this go-round.
So that's what I think, based on what I've read and deduced and my gut feeling. Whether I'm right remains to be seen, but you asked, I answered!