BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
The Rockies have been driving in runs since the homestand last weekend.
It has not been a coincidence they have won six of seven games as a result after the Rockies took a 6-3 victory over the Orioles last night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It shows there is a correlation between scoring and winning games. The Rockies are scoring many runs, and their offensive output has given them many wins.
Charlie Culberson, D.J. LeMahieu and Corey Dickerson have given the Rockies a spark on offense. They are driving in runs, and they have been aggressive in creating offense such as stealing bases or extending a single into a double.
Based on their success so far, they will be getting playing time. They are hoping they can be in the Rockies’ plans for 2014.
Culberson hit his first major league home run last night in tying the game at 2 in the sixth inning. In 15 games, he has eight hits and five RBIs in 33 at-bats. He has been coming through in key hits so far.
It is a small sample size, but he is getting it done so far. It will be interesting how he does as he gets playing time. He is a guy who provides pop in the lineup. He hit .310 with 14 home runs, 27 doubles, eight triples and 64 RBIs for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Culberson also reads the ball well when he plays the outfield. He demonstrated his athleticism last night when he made a nice run to deny Adam Jones of a hit in the fifth inning. That play prevented the Orioles from creating a big inning in that inning as Chris Davis was stranded at first.
Reading where the ball goes is an important skill for an outfielder. It helps prevent base hits. Nelson Cruz learned it the hard way in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series when he failed to read the ball, and that set the Cardinals to score two runs that helped them tie the game at 7 in the ninth inning. From there, the Cardinals had the momentum as they won the game along with winning Game 7 of the World Series.
Reading where the ball goes has an impact on the scoreboard, and Culberson is one guy that can make a difference with his good eye and athleticism. That’s why he will get consideration to be an everyday outfielder if he produces as a hitter and a fielder.
LeMahieu has taken the job from Josh Rutledge this season as the everyday second baseman, and that should make him the favorite to be playing in that position next year.
LeMahieu has 75 hits and 15 doubles along with driving in 18 runs in 278 at-bats. He is a guy that can make things happen on the base such as extending a single into a double or finding a way to steal a base as he has 14 stolen bases to show for it.
He is a classic tablesetter that puts himself in a position to score with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer hitting after him.
He has been steady as a hitter, and that’s why he established himself as an everyday player.
LeMahieu’s defense has been good. He knows how to make double plays, and he can make a nice grab as he displayed last night by making a leaping catch to rob Matt Wieters of a hit in the third inning. That play was huge since the bases were loaded with two outs. If he does not make that catch, the Orioles would have scored couple of more runs with them taking a 2-0 lead.
LeMahieu’s play was the turning point of the game. He was able to get Juan Nicasio out of a jam there in that third inning.
Rutledge lost his job at second base since he could not do what LeMahieu has done at that position.
Dickerson has been a revelation with 25 hits and eight RBIs in 33 games for the Rockies. All he does is hit when he is batting. He is so good that the Rockies expect him to get a base hit when he makes a plate appearance.
He has given the Rockies a spark since filling in for Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list with a finger injury. The team knew he could hit after hitting .371 with 11 homers, 14 triples, 21 doubles and 50 RBIs in 75 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs, so what he’s doing is not surprising.
Dickerson has a chance to be an everyday player next year with Cuddyer likely moving to first base as Todd Helton’s replacement. It is not only his defense that will help him, but it’s his offense.
Culberson, LeMahieu and Dickerson have upgraded the offense for the Rockies. They have made the lineup better with their presence. They bring energy and aggressiveness that has been lacking before they arrived. They are being effective as catalysts. Their play has given the Rockies a much-needed spark.
Teams need those types of players to complement sluggers in the lineup. There has to be a balance for a lineup to be effective.
The offense has been better with the emergence of the Rockies’ sparkplugs.
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