De La Rosa can't get enough of Coors Field
Lefty beats LA, racks up 40th win in his home ballpark since arrival in 2008
DENVER - Jorge De La Rosa is the pitching anomaly.
He loves Coors Field.
"It is such a good place to pitch," he said.
The Rockies can only be thankful for his appreciation of the ballpark they call home.
Since his arrival back in 2008 he has made a habit of proving what other pitchers claim is impossible -- pitching at Coors Field can be fun and rewarding.
Another chapter to his book was added on Saturday in the Rockies 8-7 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was only the Rockies third win in their last 19 games. All three wins belong to De La Rosa in his four starts during that stretch, suffering the loss when the Rockies were no-hit by Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium on June 8.
But then Saturday's game was in Coors Field, where De La Rosa is now 40-14 (.741) since his arrival in 2008 -- the most wins in Coors history, and the second-best home winning percentage among Major League starters in that stretch. Only Zack Greinke (57-16, .781) has had more success at home. And Greinke has had three home parks in that stretch, two of which, Dodger Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, are labeled pitcher friendly.
"I heard a lot about the stadium when I was a rookie in Milwaukee [in 2005], guys were saying the ball would not break and it flew so far, but when I played catch here I didn't think it was that bad," he said.
And now that he pitches at Coors Field?
"It's fun," he said. "I like the stadium."
Well he should.
For his success in the park that is located a mile above sea level, he is 24-26 with a 4.43 road ERA since joining the Rockies, and even that was an improvement of his 15-23 record and 5.85 ERA with Milwaukee and Kansas City.
For many pitchers, like Mike Hampton, Coors has been a death knell for a career.
With De La Rosa is has been the salvation of his career.
By the time the Rockies traded Ramon Ramirez to the Royals for De La Rosa in the spring of 2008 in a trade of two players who didn't fit with their former teams, he had already spent a Rand McNally decade in pro ball, touring North America.
Originally signed by Arizona in March of 1998 he was sold two years later to Monterrey in his native Mexico. A year later, Boston purchased him, and in November of 2003 the Red Sox put him in the package that brought Curt Schilling from Arizona, which three days later shipped De La Rosa to Milwaukee in another multi-player deal. In July of 2006, he was dealt for infielder Tony Graffanino to the Royals, who finally ran out of patience in the spring of 2008.
De La Rosa only got into 97 big league games during those 10 years, never seeing the Majors with Arizona and Boston. He did, however, see a lot of countryside, pitching for Minor Leagues teams in Missoula, Mont., Lancaster, Calif., Sarasota, Fla., Trenton, N.J., Portland, Ore., Pawtucket, R.I., Indianapolis, Huntsville, Ala., Wichita and Omaha in addition to the time in Monterrey.
Then he finally found a baseball home in Colorado.
"It's my favorite park," he said.
The horror stories he heard from others didn't faze him.
"When I came here I learned to not feel pressure, not to worry about what's going to happen, to just do my job," he said.
And he has done his job at Coors Field.
Sunday was another example. The game opened with a ground ball from Yaisel Puig that was originally ruled a two-base error on shortstop Josh Rutledge, leading to what were two unearned runs. The runs were eventually changed to earned runs when the scorer decided to give Puig a hit and add the error only for the fact Puig went to second on the play.
De La Rosa's response? Well, he struck out Andre Ethier to end that first inning, and did not allow a hit in the next five innings, allowing the Rockies to build up the lead that the bullpen struggled to maintain.
"It's been a tough stretch," manager Walt Weiss said of the Rockies six-week slide in which they are 11-31, and have gone from two games out of first place in the NL West to 12 games back. "It was good to have Jorge out there. We always feel good to have him on the mound."
And they feel particularly good to have him on the mound at home.
His 40 wins are the most in Coors Field history, four more than Aaron Cook amassed in all or parts of 10 years with the Rockies. De La Rosa's .736 winning percentage is 124 points higher than Ubaldo Jimenez, who ranks No. 2 on the all-time chart. And his 4.15 ERA is second to Jimenez 3.67.
"I like it here because I can command my pitches here," he said. "When I go on the road the breaking ball breaks too much. I have trouble keeping it in the strike zone. It's not as comfortable as pitching in Coors Field."
He has the history to back up his claim.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.