The Cubs ended Colorado’s seven game winning streak and handed the Rockies their first regulation loss of the season. The home team’s previous losses were in extra inning affairs. The “W” brought Chicago back to .500, where they have been hovering around all season so far. After being shut out Thursday night, it was good to see the Cubs come back with a good game all around.
Casey Coleman pitched very well considering the circumstances. It is hard enough trying to fill in for an injured starting pitcher in the rotation, but the youngster also was going up against a hot Rockies line up in the offensive friendly Coors Field, even if the balls are kept in humidors now. He did issue three walks and hit two batters, but he was able to tip toe his way out of jams in the bottom of the fourth and fifth.
Coleman left the game after taking a come backer off his foot in the 6th inning, but replays showed that he did not leave due to injury. With pinch hitter Todd Helton being announced, manager Mike Quade used the pause in play to bring in reliever James Russell to create the lefty versus lefty match up. Russell, who struggled in his starting appearance for the injured Andrew Cashner, has bounced back very well in his relief appearances since, including getting Helton to fly out to get out of the 6th inning.
Sean Marshall also chipped in a scoreless frame, but John Grabow struggled in his outing. He issued three walks in the 8th inning and served up a two run home run. His struggles forced Quade to have to go to Kerry Wood early, when ideally the veteran set up man would have been brought in for the 9th inning to close out the non save situation. Wood was able to clean up Grabow’s mess and Carlos Marmol came into the final frame to seal the win for the Cubs. You hate to see the back end of the bullpen make an appearance when you could have saved them for the next game. Ryan Dempster has hit a wall in the later innings of his starts so far, so the bullpen would have been nice to keep fresh for Sunday’s game.
Coleman also got help by great defensive plays on the right side of the infield. Two excellent plays by Darwin Barney at second base and one by Carlos Pena at first base robbed potential base hits by the Rockies and the young pitcher helped himself out by covering first base on those plays.
Kosuke Fukudome made his return to the line up after hurting his hamstring in Milwaukee last weekend, but he found himself batting seventh in the order. As mentioned in yesterday’s game recap, it looks like Quade is going to stick with the hot hand combination of Starlin Castro and Barney. The young duo came through again, going a combined 6 for 10 at the plate with four RBIs and two runs.
Alfonso Soriano also had a great day at the plate, going 3 for 5. He got the scoring started with a RBI double in the 2nd inning to drive in Pena, and added a solo shot over the right center field wall in the 6th inning for already his fifth home run of the 2011 season. The high priced left fielder has been hitting well to the opposite field to start the season, thanks to the coaching of Rudy Jaramillo. Soriano has a history of slow starts in April, but his production so far has been a pleasant surprise.
Castro provided the big blow with a three run homer in the 7th inning to tack on the much needed insurance runs in offensive friendly Coors Field, and sparked a five spot in the frame in which Aramis Ramirez and Fukudome followed up with RBI singles each.