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ROCKIES 12, ASTROS 1 Message received: Stewart finds pop


ROCKIES 12, ASTROS 1 Message received: Stewart finds pop
This wasn't a game. It was pop Rock. Channel 1 on Sirius. In Tuesday's 12-1 rout at Coors Field, the Rockies went Black Eyed Peas on the Houston Astros: "Boom, Boom, Pow."

The Rockies pounded four home runs, including shots from Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe, who finished with a career-high five RBIs.

But nobody provided more muscle than Ian Stewart. His human highlight film came out of nowhere. No one could have predicted he would blast two home runs, including his second career grand slam. Unless, of course, you wandered down to Tucson for spring training.

The guy who launched Felipe Paulino's 87-mph changeup into the second deck and rocketed Tim Byrdak's 89-mph fastball over the center-field fence is the one who spent six weeks terrorizing pitchers in Arizona.

"He's got big-time pop," said pitcher Jason Marquis of Stewart, who leads the Rockies with six home runs.

Stewart started the season fast, but was 2-for-21 this month entering Tuesday, a series defined by the public support shown manager Clint Hurdle by owner Dick Monfort.

Everyone slumps. What was so perplexing about Stewart is that he was having trouble taking the bat off his shoulder.

Stewart insisted he was comfortable at the plate. Hurdle had a different view.

"I have had more conversations with Ian than I would care to about this," Hurdle said before the game. "It's time for him to bring something."

Stewart couldn't have received the message better if it had been texted. The crush against Paulino came on the at-bat's third pitch. The home run off Byrdak on the second pitch. That shot, which never got higher than 20 feet off the ground, explained why scouts give Stewart Grade 8 raw power, the highest possible rank. When his buggy-whip hands work in sync, scorekeepers are advised to get the tape measure out.

"I am not even worried about hitting the home runs. I was focusing on hitting the ball hard and being more aggressive," Stewart said. "This is the kind of game I needed."

The same applied to the offense. If nothing else, Tuesday proved the theory that the Rockies are a boom-or-bust lineup. In their 13 wins they have averaged 8.1 runs, compared to 2.9 in their losses.

"We have been getting enough pitching," Hawpe said. "We need to score more runs consistently."

Ubaldo Jimenez didn't require much support. He worked seven innings, allowing one run. He has posted a 2.14 ERA in his last three starts, signaling he's back on track.

The challenge now is for the team to follow suit.

"We want to give the fans a winning product, a championship ballclub," Hurdle said before adding, "I believe in them, but there comes a point and time when you have to play."

Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1301 or trenck@denverpost.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 13, 2009

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