- 142 wins
- 110 wins
DENVER -- The headlines this winter heralded that Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel had signed a two-year, $7.75 million contract. Hammel also saw it as a responsibility to take another step forward in his development.
But until Friday night, he spent way too much time stepping alone.
A victim of low run support all season, Hammel watched his team's recent offensive surge continue, with Chris Nelson and Carlos Gonzalez hitting home runs and recent call-up Charlie Blackmon knocking four hits in a 13-6 victory over the Tigers at Coors Field on Friday night in front of 41,594.
The Rockies had averaged 3.76 runs of support in Hammel's previous 13 starts, the 18th-lowest figure in the National League. On Friday, however, Hammel (4-6) left the game with a 13-6 lead after pitching 6 1/3 innings, and giving up six runs on eight hits, for his first win since April 30. His ERA rose from 3.60 to 4.00, but he was happy.
"Wins and losses are one of the bigger overrated stats in a pitcher's statistics -- they aren't there for myself, but the other important numbers are pretty close to being good," Hammel said. "You can't be selfish and worry about wins and losses. It's not 'Jason Hammel gets a win,' or 'Jason Hammel gets a loss.'
"I don't like to be all over the radar. I'm an under-the-radar guy."
The heck with radar. The Rockies wanted Hammel in the win column.
"He deserves more than just one of those; we need to do that a few more times to get him back to even," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said. "He's pitched too well to have the record he has, and that's the offense's fault, not his."
On Saturday night, the offense has a shot to support Ubaldo Jimenez (1-7, 4.63), who has struggled mightily at Coors this season (0-5, 7.05 ERA) in a sub-par beginning of the year. Jimenez has had the fifth-lowest run support average in the NL, at 2.88.
The Rockies made it happen for Hammel by cracking double figures in hits, with 14, for the eighth time in the last nine games. Every starting position player had a hit. Eight hits and nine runs came in three innings against Tigers starter Rick Porcello (6-5).
"The ballpark, or [the fact] that the ball flies here, that didn't have any affect on me," Porcello said. "I'm pretty sure they would have scored nine runs if we were in Comerica [Park], too, so that's just the way it was. I wasn't effective. It was a terrible start, really."
Gonzalez extended his hit steak to 10 games and drove in four runs, on a sacrifice fly in the second inning, a two-run double in the third and his 10th home run of the season, a solo job in the fifth.
"It's a very well-played game, maybe one of the better games that we've played all year," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
It's little surprise that the Rockies, now 5-3 on a homestand that ends with games against the Tigers on Saturday and Sunday, have heated up in time for Interleague Play. Since 2006, they are 49-30 against the American League and 29-8 at Coors Field.
Hammel walked Alex Avila to force in a run during a 30-pitch first inning. But the Rockies scored six second-inning runs -- one Hammel drove in on a bases-loaded walk from Rick Porcello (6-5) and three scored on Chris Nelson's first Major League home run, a liner that wrapped inside the foul pole in left.
Hammel left his last start with back tightness, and said Friday he was under orders not to swing. He said he felt tightness in the fourth, but pitched through it.
Seth Smith opened the third with a triple, and scored on an Avila fielding error. Gonzalez knocked a two-run double. Troy Tulowitzki's RBI double and Blackmon's third hit, an RBI single, accounted for runs in the fourth. Gonzalez homered off reliever Adam Wilk, in the fifth. Blackmon added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
In 10 games since being called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs, Blackmon has hit .410, and he is 11-for-16 (.689) in his last four games.
"I didn't know what to expect, but I'm definitely going to take it," Blackmon said.
Gonzalez also helped Hammel by ending the third by throwing out Miguel Cabrera, who was trying to score from second on a Magglio Ordonez single.
"You can watch a lot of baseball games and you cannot see a better throw," Tracy said. "The depth that he threw the ball from, still showing you the arm strength, and the accuracy that he showed, I would beg to tell say you could put an awful lot of outfielders out there that would not make a throw like that."
The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta touched Hammel in the sixth for his third career grand slam. Blackmon jumped near the fence and after the game said he thought he could have made the catch if he hadn't leaped in the wrong spot.
Hammel left with two on and one out in the seventh.
"Tonight, I got so much run support I'm actually disappointed I gave back six," said Hammel, who struck out two and walked four. "It's tough. All the damage was done on one swing, but fastball command was shady at best. But like I said it's a great team win."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.