The 2011 season is officially underway for the Colorado Rockies. Unfortunately for the nearly 50,000 fans in attendance at Coors Field, the new season began with a loss for the Rockies. The Arizona Diamondbacks toppled Colorado 7-6 in extra innings thanks to a wild pitch by reliever Matt Lindstrom that allowed Geraldo Parra to race home from third for the go-ahead run in the top half of the 11th inning.
The Rockies got off to a quick start, scoring twice in the first and once more in the second to take a 3-1 lead through two innings. The Diamondbacks raced out to their first lead with with three runs in the fifth inning, and two more runs in the next frame. Colorado responded though in the bottom of the sixth with their first homerun of the new year, a solo shot by Jose Lopez to left field that trimmed the deficit to 6-4.
Things got a bit wacky after that. In the bottom of the seventh, the Rockies were seemingly done for when Ty Wigginton struck out on a pitch in the dirt. But catcher Miguel Montero short-hopped the throw to first base allowing Carlos Gonzalez to spring home all the way from second to keep the inning alive. Lopez then drove in his second run of the game when he beat out a slow-rolling grounder to third with two outs, and Todd Helton crossed home plate to tie the score at 6-6. Both teams bats went quiet until the 11th when Arizona took the lead for good.
Colorado was just 8-10 in extra inning games a year ago, and two games under .500 in one-run contests (28-30). If Tracey’s squad hopes to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in what should be a highly competitive NL West, they’ll have to fare better in these types of tightly contested affairs. Prior to the start of the season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy mentioned that his team was ‘good’, but that they would have to improve in little areas in order to take the next big step forward and become ‘great’. If Opening Day was any indication, the Rockies still have work to do. Colorado left 12 men on base thanks in part to 11 strikeouts by the lineup.
As disappointing as the loss was, there were positives from the season opener as well. And even if there hadn’t been, one game doesn’t mean much in the long grind that is a 162 MLB season.