Colorado Rockies Inside Pitch: 4/5/2007

In this edition of Rockies Inside Pitch, Jamey Carroll has proved incredible off the bench for the Rockies. The Rockies are off to a 2-1 start to the 2007 season, and have the fans in Colorado thinking about the future. Here is the latest edition of Rockies Inside Pitch:

After trading Jason Jennings in December, the Rockies acquired Rodrigo Lopez in January, hoping Lopez could pitch 200-plus innings and avoid his recent form. He went 9-18 for Baltimore last year, leading the majors in losses and tying for the second most in Orioles history.

But Lopez twice won 15 games and once won 14 in the rugged AL East, and the Rockies are banking on Lopez being able to recapture that form. He took a notable first step Wednesday in his Rockies debut and his first time on the Coors Field stage.

An 11-4 romp over the Diamondbacks doesn't indicate the minimal margin for error Lopez had during his best-case-scenario outing. When he left after seven innings, the Rockies were leading 3-2. Lopez had thrown a mere 76 pitches, including 48 strikes, and shown the ability to ease off the throttle and escape sticky situations.

"All I had in my mind all offseason," Lopez said, "was to come back and pitch and enjoy when you're on the mound. And today I did."

He needed just six pitches to retire the Diamondbacks in order. That started a game in which he faced 27 batters and got 10 flyouts, six groundouts and five strikeouts without issuing a walk.

"I thought his tempo was excellent," manager Clint Hurdle said. "His pitch selection was good. His command was good. (He had a good) downhill plane -- it was tough to square him up. ... Big first step for him. He's got to feel good about himself."

Last Game:ROCKIES 11, DIAMONDBACKS 4: The Rockies scored three unearned runs in the first and took a 4-2 lead into the eighth when they sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs to rout the Diamondbacks in the rubber game of the three-game series.

Rodrigo Lopez needed just 76 pitches to work seven innings, as he allowed two runs (one earned). Matt Holliday doubled home a run in the first, homered in the seventh and singled home two runs in the eighth as he went 4-for-5 with four RBIs.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • CF Steve Finley made his first start for the Rockies for two reasons. The left-handed-hitting Finley had a 4-for-10 career mark against Arizona LHP Doug Davis, and Willy Taveras, a right-handed hitter, went 1-for-9 with six strikeouts in his first two games. Finley went 1-for-6 Wednesday as the leadoff hitter.

  • 2B Jamey Carroll, who made his first start Wednesday, hit .359 (37-for-103) against left-handers last year and figures to see a lot of action against them because switch-hitting Kaz Matsui, the starter at second base, hit .119 (5-for-42) against them. Carroll went 3-for-4 with a double Wednesday. He scored two runs and reached base five times in six plate appearances.

  • LHP Jeremy Affeldt somehow managed to roll both his of ankles on one pitch while warming up before the ninth inning Wednesday, an injury manager Clint Hurdle called it "a left-handed thing."

    Affeldt said he extended too far, causing his plant (left) ankle to roll, and then rolled his right ankle when he tried to compensate during his followthrough. After a quick review by trainer Keith Dugger, Affeldt stayed in the game and retired one batter in his 2007 debut before giving way to RHP Taylor Buchholz.

    Neither ankle is believed to be seriously injured.

    "I'm definitely blessed. I could have pulled a (hamstring) or any other thing," Affeldt said. "I try to keep a good reputation for left-handers, but I guess I kind of messed it up there."

  • OF Jeff Baker is 3-for-3 as a pinch hitter this season and had one pinch hit in each game of the Diamondbacks series. He homered Monday, singled Tuesday and doubled Wednesday.

  • Rockies pitchers began the season by not allowing a home run for 21 innings, a streak that ended when Arizona CF Eric Byrnes homered on a 1-2 pitch from RHP Rodrigo Lopez in the second inning Wednesday.

    BY THE NUMBERS: .398 -- Average for John Mabry in 123 at-bats at Coors Field.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Individually we've had some growth, and collectively we need to have more team growth ... We really think we're on the verge of something very important and very meaningful here in Colorado Rockies baseball." -- Manager Clint Hurdle on his Rockies team, which features homegrown young players, some promising and some proven, and the addition of veterans who have been in winning situations.

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