10/05/07 7:45 PM ET
Torrealba keeping it simple
Catcher trying not to overthink reasons behind hot streak
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
"You always wait for one at-bat to get it going," Torrealba said. "But I'm not sure when it started."
It's almost like the Rockies' 16-of-17 run that has them in position for a sweep of the Phillies in the National League Division Series, should they win Game 3 on Saturday night at Coors Field. Who cares when or how success arrived? Just roll with it.
Going into a Sept. 10 regular-season game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Torrealba was 4-for-33 since managing more than one hit in a game.
But that night he lashed two doubles, one of them an umpire's judgment call from being a grand slam instead. From that night to the regular-season's end, Torrlealba knocked seven doubles and two home runs.
He has continued in the first two games of the NLDS. He delivered an RBI single that kept going a three-run second inning in the 4-2 Game 1 victory Wednesday afternoon, and a two-run double in a four-run sixth in Thursday afternoon's 10-5 victory.
The turnaround started when Torrealba hit an opposite-way fly ball that bounced off the glove of a fan whose seat was beyond the right-field wall in Philadelphia. The Rockies lost the argument that it was a homer, but Torrealba had regained his swing.
The right-handed-hitting Torrealba needs to hit liners the opposite way, like the disputed hit. Then he starts to cover the inside part of the plate, a trait that has netted doubles on hard bouncers past third base. But the opposite-field stroke clears his mind.
"When I was struggling I was thinking too much instead of looking for pitches, going out of my routine," he said. "I'm not sure when it started, but I feel good at the plate."
The at-bats from the eighth position are key, because they open options in the No. 9 spot. That's worked the last two days.
His hit Wednesday allowed pitcher Jeff Francis to sacrifice bunt, increasing the pressure that led to Phillies starter Cole Hamels walking in a run. Thursday, he drew a walk from Kyle Kendrick and was on base for Kazuo Matsui's grand slam off Kyle Lohse, and his double preceded Matsui's triple.
Rookie catcher Chris Iannetta struggled early but finished strong, batting .306 in with a homer in 13 September games, some of his time coming while Torrealba was struggling. With Torrealba's resurgence, the Rockies have the luxury of having Iannetta as a backup who can help the offense.
"If you're going to have an eighth hitter in the lineup, he's not a bad one to have; he can do some damage," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "So he's a pleasure to have on our club. He's done a fantastic job."
Torrealba is the only position player and one of four total (pitchers LaTroy Hawkins, Matt Herges and Mark Redman are the others) on the NLDS roster with postseason experience.
He appeared twice for the Giants against the Marlins in 2004, and went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly in his only start. In 2003, he was on the playoff roster through the World Series, which the Giants dropped to the Angels, but did not appear.
Torrealba, 29, also adds to a calm in the Rockies' clubhouse that seems odd, given the lack of playoff experience.
After serving as a part-time player for four-plus seasons with the Giants and the Mariners and missing much of last season with a shoulder injury, Torrealba is too busy cherishing his first season of regular duty to become tight in the playoffs.
"I don't even understand what 'nervous' means," he said. "I think the only time I was nervous was my first big league at-bat. Last year was a really frustrating year for me, but this year it's definitely exciting."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.