To say the Colorado Rockies had a disappointing offseason could be considered by most an extreme understatement. Todd Helton, arguably the greatest player in Rockies team history, hung up his cleats, leaving a colossal void at first base. Dexter Fowler was sent to the Houston Astros, leaving long-time Rockies followers wondering who would cover center field, a concern that lingered up to the first lineup card of their first regular season game.
Some additions were made to the Rockies pitching and fielding roster, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would argue the team was somehow improved by a single addition knowing the talent that left Colorado.
With that in mind, it had to be understandable that Friday’s home opener for the Rockies against the Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to come with little excitement or fanfare. Of course Coors Field was sold out, the Rockies still play in Denver, a sports city known for its obsessed, but extraordinarily loyal fanbase. But there was a feeling of a fanbase simply going through the motions of perceived tradition.
Once the game began, everything changed for those in attendance. The Rockies would reward the loyalty of their followers.
Juan Nicasio set the tempo from the mound in the first inning and never looked back. In the rare occasion that D’Back hitters were able to make solid contact, the near flawless Rockies defense made exceptional plays to cover their right-handed hurler.
On the offensive side of the ball, the lead off question mark from the offseason became an exclamation point in the form of Charlie Blackmon, who made Opening Day history, going 6-for-6 from the plate including one long ball, three doubles and five RBIs. The name Dexter and Fowler never once entered the mind of a Rockies fan Friday.
Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau was also involved in the Colorado offense, which scored 12 runs to Arizona’s two, pushing his batting average north of .350 on the young season. By no means has he been anointed to the legendary status of Helton, but he’s certainly shown the Blake Street followers there can be production post No. 17.
The shaky (at best) Rockies bullpen never had the opportunity to make things interesting late. Nicasio put them in a position where failure was impossible. Nicasio made the statement, the defense backed it up, and the offense provided the fireworks in an unforgettable home opener. Doing so against NL West foe Arizona made it that much sweeter.
Obviously we temper expectations as question marks remain for this new look Rockies ball club, but for the first time this season, new phrases started to enter the conversation. What if? Could it? Is it possible that? Three phrases of many that signal a single word for the Rocky Mountain faithful – hope.