Monday, August 29, 2011

Carlos Gonzalez helps Rockies defeat Dodgers 7-6

Carlos Gonzalez doesn't get paid to hit. He gets paid to multitask, and you could argue that no player in the major leagues does it as well as CarGo.

How deep does his tool drawer run? On the same day he didn't drive in a run for the first time in 12 games, he stole two runs, potentially three, from the Dodgers on Sunday at Dodger Stadium in a game the Rockies

won 7-6.

Three words: Do the math.

Technically, Rafael Betancourt got the save in a game that enabled the Rockies to avoid a three-game sweep. But everyone who saw Gonzalez's catch to end the fourth inning knew better.

"That catch," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, "was the play of the day."

If Gonzalez didn't make a diving catch on Justin Sellers' drive down the right-field line, two runs would have scored to pull the Dodgers within one. And Sellers would have been standing on second or third, representing the tying run.

Right. Like CarGo wasn't going to catch the ball.

"I thought when the ball came off the bat, there was no chance he was catching it," said Ty Wigginton, who had a good view from first base. "He actually made it pretty easy. He's special. As the year goes along, he's starting to get into that form that people in Colorado have seen."

Said Gonzalez, when asked about the catch, "Which one?"

Exactly. There's no such thing as a circus catch by CarGo. Because he makes the spectacular seem routine.

"Just put it on the list," Tracy said.

As for Gonzalez's hitting, his franchise-record 11-game RBI streak was snapped. He had to settle for three hits, including a double, that extended his hitting streak to 15, during which he has hit .417 (25-for-60) with eight homers and 26 RBIs.

"It's fun," Gonzalez said. "It's the baseball that I play. Right now, I'm just going to enjoy it and take advantage of whatever opportunity is in front of me. When you're hot, everything coming off your bat is hits.

"I wasn't looking for any record. The only record I care about is the record of the team."

The Rockies have a lot of work to do on that front, even after Kevin Kouzmanoff's four RBIs — three on a bases-loaded bloop double in the first — helped the Rockies win this one. At 64-70, they're 11 games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West.

Even a sweep of Arizona this week probably wouldn't get them back in the race, but it would have been nice to arrive in Phoenix with a rested bullpen.

Instead, Jhoulys Chacin's command issues reappeared after the Rockies gave him a 5-0 lead in the first.

Chacin (11-10, 3.60 ERA) escaped the fourth thanks to Gonzalez's catch. Two innings later, he walked the first three batters to load the bases, beginning a procession of five relievers.

"I just lost my focus a little bit," Chacin said. "It's just the walks. You've got to throw strikes and give the defense a chance to make plays."

Said Tracy: "Jhoulys got the win, but that's not the way you'd like to see it be done. You have an opportunity there, with what we did early, to leave a lot of (relievers) sitting down there, but ball four continues to haunt him. He's just got to understand that. He's got to clear that hurdle."

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