Over the past eight years, Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez has witnessed long-time teammate Jorge De La Rosa chew up innings and rack up wins in one of the most difficult pitcher’s ballparks in America. So, yeah, it was strange for Gonzalez to watch De La Rosa get demoted to the bullpen in late May and make three relief appearances.
Gonzalez admitted after last night’s Rockies win against the New York Yankees it was a little weird seeing the Mexican left-hander pitch out of the bullpen over the last half-month. Gonzalez has been present for the vast majority of De La Rosa’s 80 wins in Colorado, a franchise record, since the two became teammates in 2009.
Tuesday night at Coors Field looked familiar to Gonzalez, though. De La Rosa got the start and pitched five innings of three-hit, no-run ball. Colorado enjoyed a six-run cushion when he exited the game, and though the remaining four innings were bumpy to say the least, the Rockies (31-33) held on for a 13-10 win over the New York Yankees.
“He’s really important for this team,” Gonzalez said. “We understand that he understands that he needs to be that guy — that No. 1 guy. But his track record’s always been the same. He always starts really slow, and this year was not any different.”
No kidding. De La Rosa came out of the blocks in 2016 at a snail’s pace. He failed to last five innings in five of his first six starts of the season. In that time, he surrendered 30 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings. The Rockies relegated him to the ‘pen after a particularly garish outing against Boston on May 24.
But De La Rosa thrived in his three relief outings after that and eventually earned his starting role back. He looked good again Tuesday. The game marked the first time he’d pitched five or more innings of shutout ball since August 30, 2015.
He also earned the win — though the Rockies’ bullpen put that jeopardy late in the game. The Yankees tagged Justin Miller and Miguel Castro for seven runs during an endless eighth inning. A Rockies lead 12-3 lead dwindled all the way down to a two-run advantage.
Gonzalez, who went 4-for-5, blasted a home run in the bottom half of the frame to erase some of the pressure, and Carlos Estevez closed things out in the ninth.
De La Rosa (3-4) got the win. More importantly, the winningest pitcher in franchise history seems to have gotten his groove back.
“Some if it was vintage Georgie,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “… He not only minimized the damage, but didn’t give up any damage. We knew he wasn’t going to throw 110 pitches. He hasn’t been out there for a while. He was at the end of the line there after five, but you couldn’t ask for anything better.”