DENVER (AP) -- The ball was at least a foot outside, but Marcus
Thames still took a feeble swing at it. He couldn't help himself.
Irritated that he'd make such a weak attempt at a pitch he had
no chance of hitting, Thames slammed his bat to the dirt, breaking
it in half.
Yep, facing Byung-Hyun Kim can be that frustrating.
Kim pitched six strong innings to win for the first time in
nearly a year and earn a spot in Colorado's rotation, and Preston
Wilson hit two homers to lift the Colorado Rockies to a 7-3 victory
over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
"I came back after a few days off and it's hard enough, but it
just makes it worse when the guy is throwing from underhand," said
Thames, who struck out three times against Kim.
Kim (1-5) has always been difficult to hit -- opponents have a
.209 average against him in seven seasons, including .239 this
year. Kim's problem has been control, particularly as a reliever.
He had two unfortunate breakdowns for Arizona in the 2001 World
Series, all kinds of trouble with Boston and didn't show any signs
of getting better after being traded to Colorado this season, going
0-3 with a 7.84 and 26 walks in 20 2/3 innings.
But in four games as a spot starter, Kim has clearly been more
comfortable. He's cut his ERA nearly in half -- 4.50 -- and walked
just seven in 22 innings, including two -- one intentional -- against
Despite manager Alan Trammell giving Rondell White and Ivan
Rodriguez a day off to get more left-handers in the lineup, the
Tigers spent most of the day swinging and missing against Kim's
deceptive, sidewinding motion.
The right-hander struck out a career-high eight and allowed two
runs and five hits to win for the first time since last Oct. 2,
when he beat Baltimore while pitching for Boston. It was an outing
good enough to earn Kim a spot in Colorado's rotation.
"I just know he's not going to be in the bullpen anymore,"
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He needs to hold onto this job
because he's not going back there anymore. That's the hard talk we
had a while ago. For whatever reason, an opportunity was presented
to him and he's moving upon it."
So is Wilson.
He struggled early in the season with a sore knee, but has had
better movement in the outfield and more freedom at the plate since
ditching a bulky brace.
Wilson ended a 1-for-10 slump with three hits against Detroit on
Saturday and the confidence clearly carried over.
He hit Nate Robertson's second pitch of the fourth inning out to
left to tie the game at 2, then put the Rockies up 4-2 in the sixth
-- again on Robertson's second pitch of the inning -- with his 11th
"Anytime you have something on it that is supposed to restrict
you in some ways, it is respected. There is extra weight there and
you have to deal with that," Wilson said after his 16 career
multihomer game. "More than anything it's the fact I am playing
more games consistently than just taking the brace off."
Robertson (2-4) was effective with his big, overhand curveball
in the early innings, but seemed to wear down in his first trip to
Coors Field. The left-hander allowed runs in the first, fourth and
fifth innings before Colorado broke open a close game with four
runs in the sixth.
Danny Ardoin followed Wilson's second homer with an RBI single,
pinch-hitter Jorge Piedra added a run-scoring double and Eddy
Garabito capped the inning with an RBI single that put the Rockies
Robertson allowed eight hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings to
lose for the fifth time in six decisions.
"I don't think he pitched poorly," Tigers manager Alan
Trammell said. "I think Nate was pretty darn good, I think he
pitched well enough to win. We just didn't score enough runs."
Nook Logan hit his first career homer in the ninth to cut
Detroit's deficit to 7-3, but it was just the sixth hit for
Detroit, which has lost seven of nine.
Kim certainly didn't make it an easier on the Tigers.
He allowed a run in the second inning on Tony Giarratano's RBI
single and another in the third on Craig Monroe's sacrifice fly. He
gave up one more hit after that -- a single by Placido Polanco in
the fifth -- before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth.
"I'm getting better as a starter," said Kim, who won as a
starter for the first time since April 29, 2003, against Florida.
"I feel more comfortable starting than being in the bullpen
because I'm out there longer and see hitters more often."
Kim hit Dmitri Young in the second inning, the sixth hitter
he's plunked this season. ... Rockies RF Dustan Mohr made nice
diving catch on Polanco's slicing liner in the first inning. ...
Colorado is 9-3 all-time against the Tigers.
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