Tulo, CarGo leading Rockies' resurgence
DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez gets it. So does Troy Tulowitzki.
The Rockies have a solid offensive ballclub. The success and failure of the team, however, is tied to the success and failure of the two veterans in the middle of lineup.
"It has been that way for six, seven years," said Gonzalez. "We understand when we play good, we are a different offense. We can carry the team together and get everybody going."
They are the stars.
Tulowitzki has been a National League All-Star four of the past five seasons, and he has won two Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards. Gonzalez was an All-Star two of the past three seasons, and he has three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger on his resume.
The All-Star opportunity may not come for either one this year, but satisfaction is on the way.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are starting to get into a comfort zone, and Colorado is starting to show some life of its own.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez each played a big role in a pair of Rockies five-run innings that sent them on the way to an 11-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on Monday night, Colorado's 11th victory in its past 16 games.
Yes, the Rockies are still in last place in the NL West. But they also are 5 1/2 games out of first place in the division. That's also four games closer to the top than they were 16 games ago.
Not great, but definite improvement.
And it starts with the Nos. 3-4 hitters, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Tulowitzki started in 11 of those games (as well as two pinch-hit at-bats) and has hit safely in 10 of the starts, putting together a .432 average with five home runs and 16 RBIs in the 11 games. Gonzalez is hitting .360 in his past 13 games.
"We do hit in the middle of the lineup," said Tulowitzki. "Our expectations are higher than anyone else. It bothered both of us to offensively get off to a slow start.
"People wrote us off. It gave me a chip on my shoulder. It's a long season."
It's opposing teams that are paying the price lately.
The Rockies started their resurgence with back-to-back victories against the defending World Series-champion Giants, and then went on the road to win two out of three at Cincinnati and sweep a series from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park for the first time. They returned home to split a four-game series with the Dodgers, and after losing two of three to the Marlins, won their opener against the Cardinals.
Others have hit during the stretch. DJ LeMahieu, despite spending time hitting eighth and second, has hit .365 while appearing in 15 of the 16 games, and Nolan Arenado, the emerging star of the team, fills the spot behind Tulowitzki and Gonzalez in the lineup and has hit .311 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in the 16-game stretch.
"That was the silver lining [behind earlier struggles], we knew they were going to get rolling, and we've seen what can happen when both of them start looking like themselves offensively," said manager Walt Weiss. "We're showing signs of the offense coming along. It's why they call it an average. You play six months. You have highs and lows and you average it all out."
Right now is one of the highs. During the 16-game surge, Colorado is leading the NL in average (.297 compared to .292 for Pittsburgh), runs scored (90 compared to 83 for the Pirates) and home runs (25 compared to 19 for the Dodgers and Mets).
"When we do the job offensively, it takes pressure off the pitching staff," said Weiss.
It has allowed the pitching staff to lower its ERA over the 16-game stretch from 5.20 to 4.79, and put together 11 quality starts.
And it all started with a resurgence from Gonzalez and Tulowitzki.
"That makes sense, don't you think?" said Gonzalez. "Isn't that what we are supposed to do?"
Right now, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are making their presence -- and the presence of the Rockies -- felt.