Cheering isn’t allowed in the press box, but it would have been tough yesterday not to root for Colorado Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio. Initially considered an outsider to make the Rockies’ rotation after a terrifying injury last summer, the 25-year-old threw seven innings of one-run baseball in his team’s 3-2 loss against the Houston Astros.

That Nicasio was pitching in any game is perhaps a minor miracle. He suffered a fractured skull and a broken neck after a line drive deflected off his head August 5, 2011 during a game against the Washington Nationals. The injury required surgery to insert two pins into his cracked C-1 vertebra, and a small metal plate was attached to the back of his neck. At the time, there was a question whether he’d be able to play baseball again. “To see him pitch—after what he’s gone through— that’s a big accomplishment,” Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said.

Nicasio—who did not get a decision—allowed only six base runners, threw 53 of his 82 pitches for strikes, and made a case that he’s perhaps the team’s best starter. He should make his home debut this coming weekend against Arizona.

—Photo courtesy of Colorado Rockies