Confident Lopez finds pitching groove with Rockies

Confident Lopez finds pitching groove with Rockies

DENVER -- Offseason acquisition Wilton Lopez didn't endear himself to his new Rockies fans when he posted a 9.00 ERA in his first nine relief appearances. But since then, he has been scored on just once in 12 games and has fulfilled the right-handed setup role the Rockies envisioned when they acquired him from the Astros.

Lopez threw 1 1/3 innings Friday night to finish off the Rockies' 10-2 victory over the Giants at Coors Field in his team-leading 21st appearance. When he was struggling, manager Walt Weiss maintained confidence in his ability to force ground balls in key situations. Now Lopez has found his confidence.

"I feel way better than before," Lopez said. "Like always, I'm using my sinker but right now I have more confidence that I can keep it down. That's why I'm making more outs."

With the Astros, Lopez developed a reputation as an extreme ground-ball pitcher, which is why the hard-hit, deep line drives of the early season were such a shock to the Rockies. Some observers wondered if Lopez was throwing a four-seam fastball instead of his two-seamer that drops.

"I was doing the same thing as before, but my control wasn't there," Lopez said. "My command wasn't good. Now all is working. I've fixed it.

"I was a little anxious when I first got here and was trying to do a little bit too much. But as soon as I started to get to know everybody and relax, I started to pitch a lot better."

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.