May 3 2010, 11:22 AM
The Colorado Rockies, a team with more downs than ups lately, would have been really down had they been swept by division rival San Francisco over the weekend. That scenario was looking pretty likely Sunday morning, after the Giants dominated the Rockies by a combined score of 11-3 in the first two games. But yesterday, a 22-year-old with one career start as a major-league pitcher and a funny name---Jhoulys Chacin---came up huge, pitching seven innings, allowing just one hit, and striking out seven (box score via MLB.com). The Rockies are happy any time they get a win, especially against a division rival, but Chacin gave the Colorado pitching staff exactly what it needed: a performance that allowed manager Jim Tracy to lay off the bullpen until the eighth inning. The Denver Post notes that Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa are the Rockies' only starting pitchers with multi-game winning records, and the rest of the starters are looking like a bunch of scrubs. Aaron Cook, 2-3, is looking nothing like his old ace self, and Greg Smith seems to have confidence issues after a 1-4 start. Jason Hammel sits on the disabled list with a strained groin and a 0-4 record. De La Rosa has looked good and holds a 3-1 record but also finds himself on the disabled list with a finger injury. Jeff Francis is supposed to return this year, but he's still trying to get his shoulder ready for big-league games. And, closer Huston Street is working through his own shoulder injury. The sum total is a pitching unit besieged with issues. USA Today says the staff needs "a hero, someone to step up before this season spirals out of control." We're just a month into the season, but there is cause for concern when Tracy has had to force the bullpen to work six or more innings in four games. The West Coast swing won't get any easier today, as the Rockies head down to Petco Park in San Diego for a three-game set against the Padres. A sweep would put the Rockies just one game back of the division-leading Padres, but a stinker of a series like in San Francisco would give the Padres a huge lead in the division.