Last night I went to the Rockies game with my family for my cousins birthday. We met at Sports Column, as usual, to have drinks and dinner before the game. In year’s past I made it a point to be in my seat for the first pitch, but after the way 2011 ended and the frustrating 2012 team that isn’t always the case.
By the time we paid our bill, got my two kids in order and walked the half block to the park, entered and found our way to the pavilion area in left field I saw Dexter Fowler batting. I didn’t realize what time it was and thought we just missed the top half of the inning but arrived in time to watch the Rockies bat. Since Fowler was at the plate I didn’t miss any of the Rockies at-bats.
I looked up at the big scoreboard as we walked to our seats (nine of us went and the only seats we could find with nine together without paying too much was the Rockpile, more on this in a bit) I almost fell over when I saw that Fowler was batting third.
I. Was. Shocked!
Jim Tracy must be eating Lucky Charms in the morning with bananas instead of plain Cheerios or something. Something has gotten into him this year and he is actually trying different things. I believe the 75 pitch count idea was solely Dan O’Dowd and I won’t give Tracy credit for that, but batting Jordan Pacheco third on Monday (I am not a Pacheco fan and think that move is dumb) and Fowler third last night…that just isn’t Tracy-like. I could see him putting Michael Cuddyer third long before giving such a coveted spot in the order to a guy like Dex. But it makes so much sense.
Dex is second on the team in batting average and on-base average behind Carlos Gonzalez and is fourth in slugging. Putting Dex in that spot where pitchers might be more likely to give him fastballs because CarGo is due up next is a great idea. Now Tracy needs to wise up and move Cuddyer down in the order and put slugger Tyler Colvin behind CarGo to attempt to give him some protection, too.
Did you know that Dex is hitting better with runners in scoring position than with the bases empty? In 2012 when no one is on base his OPS is .892 and if runners are on and in scoring position his OPS rises to .951. One of our loyal readers, TroyF, has been calling for this move for months and it finally happened!
The real test will be if Tracy continues with this lineup. Fowler did knock in the winning run on Monday night and was 2-for-3 with two walks last night so he has been hot. Keep it up, Tracy, and maybe the fans like myself will start to cut you some slack. Maybe.
The other shock last night that I experienced was the crowd. On a Tuesday night, when rain was in the forecast, for a team 20 games under .500 who was playing the Pittsburgh Pirates over 42,000 fans were at the game. FORTY-TWO THOUSAND!! The three or four sections in the third deck in right field are rarely open but so many turned out to watch the game that all of them were open – and full!
I know Pittsburgh travels well in football but I don’t recall Coors being packed with Pirates fans when the two teams played in recent years. Then again, the Pirates have been dreadful for like the past 25 years. I did see a few Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell jerseys last night but it wasn’t like when the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees or even Philadelphia Phillies are in town and the stadium is nearly half full of fans of the team opposing the Rockies. Last night was just a big crowd and for the life of me I cannot figure out why. On a Friday night? Sure, the bars are hopping after the game, but Tuesday night? And the Rockpile was jam packed, too.
It was an amazing crowd last night and as business men the Monforts really do not have any motivation to put much money back into the team. With their current expenditures and horrid team they can draw 40,000 to the park? If I was them I would probably do the same thing; they didn’t get to where they are by being stupid with their money.