10/21/07 10:00 AM ET
Body of work: Hands and feet
Colorado is in World Series thanks to defense, speed
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Gold Gloves tend to be "heirloom" awards. Once in the family, they tend to stay in the family. So the Rockies' 2007 harvest may fall short of the deserved.Their double-play combination has range, accurate arms and is nearly flawless. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman Kaz Matsui combined for 15 errors, which would be considered a low total at the demanding position of shortstop alone. (The guys with the billing, Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, had 21.) "We take great pride in being reliable," said Tulowitzki, the scintillating 23-year-old rookie who has worked hard at his craft, taking hundreds of practice grounders for every ooh-and-aah play now. "It's great to be able to make a game-winning play with the glove. It's rarer. Like that catch by Willy in Game 2." Tulowitzki was recalling Willy Taveras' full-body dive for a Tony Clark drive into the right-center gap with two outs in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NLCS, with Eric Byrnes already rounding third, to preserve a 2-1 lead. Taveras is the common link between "D" and dash, of course. The Rockies were doing quite well without him, as he spent a month nursing himself back from a strained quad to playing health. However, retrieving Taveras for the NLCS gave them a missing element that played a huge role in the sweep of Arizona. Taveras and Matsui atop the lineup give the Rockies the chance to create havoc at the start of any game. Even Ryan Spilborghs, who had done such a stellar job as Taveras' replacement before being bumped back to the bench, had to concede that. "We're a better team with Willy on the field," Spilborghs said. "He's great at the top of the lineup, stealing bases and doing things only he can do." "Those two put a lot of pressure on the opposing team defensively," Helton said. "I know when I'm at first and see guys like that at the top of the other team's order, I sense pressure not only on the pitcher, but the entire defense. You know you can't make any mistakes. "You always worry about bunts. It's not just the speed; they're really good hitters, too, just good players. But their speed definitely helps us defensively up the middle." As a franchise, Colorado's growing pains included being known as long-ball smashing brutes, and little more. That changed as Clint Hurdle sold a new approach, and was given the players to execute that vision. Thus, the Blake Street Burglars and Burners will be on display in the Fall Classic.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.