Everything right in Rockies’ home-opening win over Padres | SummitDaily.com

Everything right in Rockies’ home-opening win over Padres

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Last season, when the idea was based more on faith than statistics, Vinny Castilla made a startling observation.

“Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa could be our Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling,” said Castilla, a Rockies’ special assistant. “They are that good.”

The similarities are striking, playing out for everyone to see this week. Four days after Jimenez successfully hatched the season in Milwaukee, De La Rosa brought smiles to the largest paid regular-season crowd in Coors Field history, 49,509.

Using a changeup like a slider, and a slider like a machete, slicing up both sides of the plate, the left-hander worked seven shutout innings in the Rockies’ impressive 7-0 victory over San Diego.

“He was a completely different person when he arrived in spring training compared to last spring,” manager Jim Tracy said.

De La Rosa’s metamorphosis has many layers, convincingly deep-rooted. After starting 0-6 last season, he went 16-3. That part is easy to look up. That feat required maturity, a calmness on the mound that was always fleeting in past years. He incorporated breathing techniques, treated distractions like a bug on his windshield. Broken bat hits, bad calls, who cares?

Physically, he arrived in spring training weighing 213 pounds, an 18-pound loss from last season. Mentally, he had a new perspective after his wife gave birth to twins nearly eight weeks premature. He kept pictures on his phone, called back to Mexico endlessly to check on their health.

In the meantime, he was the Rockies’ best pitcher all spring.

Those outings are often rendered meaningless when the season starts, but it was a seamless transition for De La Rosa. He carved up the Padres, striking out eight of the first 16 batters he faced. He struck out nine and allowed but one hit, Chase Headley’s perfectly-placed groundball to second baseman Clint Barmes’ vacated spot on a hit-and-run play in the fourth inning.

The Rockies’ first home shutout last season came on May 29 against the Padres, Tracy’s first game as manager. The game lasted just 2 hours, 28 minutes.

De La Rosa didn’t need much help, but the offense threw some notable slugs. Ian Stewart had an two-RBI single and Clint Barmes’ roped a three-run home to left field in the eighth.

A lot of things went right this day. And it started with the left-hander on the mound.

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