5 GAME ROADIE, THE LONG WAY

ROX MOURN PASSING OF BAYLOR ON TRIP TO CLEVELAND, MIAMI

It’s tempting to remember original Colorado Rockies field manager Don Baylor in terms of foundation building:  after all he was the first of now 7 men to lead the team on to battle, but in fact Baylor, who passed-away yesterday at the age of 68, was more of an exploratory figure, more the geotechnical engineer examining the soils below Coors Field, trying to identify the type of foundation that would result in success for a revolutionary major league franchise trying to discover the secret of winning baseball at altitude.

Baylor would be the man to lead the way during the early, salad days at old Mile High Stadium, the inaugural season of 1993 and pre-Coors campaign of 1994.  Baylor would lead the Rockies out onto the glistening green grass of a brand new lower downtown stadium in 1995, a place that would energize and symbolize the renaissance of a city that continues to grow at a world-class pace 22 years later, snagging the NL Wild Card playoff slot only 3 years into the team’s history.  Baylor would demonstrate for us that pre-humidor Coors Field would play more like Pinball Wizard than than major league baseball, that 10 runs are never enough, and that starting pitchers at altitude are at once difficult to obtain, difficult to maintain, and difficult to retain.  Baylor would discover that speed doesn’t necessarily kill, although you’ve got to have it to cover the Coors Field outfield.  He’d discover you can get by with barely the notion of a starting rotation, but you’d better have a shut-down bullpen if you want to try it.  And he’d discover that all good things eventually come to an end, even the Greatest Show on Earth.

Baylor was gone after a 77-85 season in 1998, rendered irrelevant in an early outbreak of Irrational Exuberance by a Rockies front office that finally had it all figured-out, if only for the first time.  It would be less than fitting to contemplate the horrifying events that would follow, but as the current cast of Rockies continues to contend for the 2017 post season, it would sure have been great if we knew then what we know now.  God bless you, Groove.

The Rockies are in Cleveland, Ohio this afternoon, setting-up for the first of two with the American League Central leading Indians tonight and tomorrow.  Colorado settled for series wins over the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in week 17 of the 2017 season, falling short of a sweep over Philadelphia when one of those pesky blown saves we grew so fond of in 2016 rose-up to bite the exquisite closer Greg Holland.

The Rockies and Phils went at each other in a low-scoring affair on Sunday.  Colorado got a run in the first off of young Aaron Nola, went scoreless over the next 6, then nicked him again on a Raimel Tapia walk and Charlie Blackmon double in the 7th.  Jeff Hoffman actually bested Nola over his 7 inning stint, surrendering only a 2nd-inning run on 4 hits and 8 strikeouts.  Pat Neshek and Mike Dunn would combine for a scoreless 8th, but Holland would flounder after Odubel Herrera led-off with a fluke double, and circumstances went sideways after Maikel Franco singled and Cameron Dunn drove a double over the head of Blackmon for the Phillies’ game winner.

Colorado also got a nice outing on Saturday from Jon Gray, who’s quietly come off of his broken toe to deliver a series of them since returning from the Disabled List.  Gray went 7 as well, allowing just a run on 6 hits and a walk as the Rockies took an 8-1 lead into the 8th.  Nolan Arenado, Gerardo Parra and Pat Valaika had singles in a 5-run 1st that also included a walk, hit-batter, and Philadelphia error.  Colorado got 3 more in the 3rd on a Parra double, Mark Reynolds single, and 2-run blast by Valaika.  On Friday the Rockies got 2 off of Phillies’ starter Vince Velasquez, who is not the same Vince Velasquez as the Atlanta homicide detective featured on The First 48, and led 2-0 until the 6th, when the Phils got to Antonio Senzatela, the second of six Colorado relievers who would cover for Kyle Freeland, who left the game in the 1st with a groin strain, for 2.  Philadelphia would briefly lead with a run in the 7th, but the Rockies would tie in the bottom of the inning and score the game winner for Holland on a couple of walks and a 2-out DJ LeMahieu single in the 8th.

Jonathan Lucroy has added some pop at the bottom of the Colorado order since his pickup at the July 31 trade deadline, and Neshek provides needed stability for a ‘pen that has struggled until recently.  Carlos Estevez replaces Scott Oberg in an exchange of dangerous relievers, Jake McGee returns from the DL to reinforce the back end, and speaking of dangerous pitchers, Tyler Chatwood also joins the ‘pen after a bad string of disastrous starts.

Right-hander German Marquez (9-4, 4.11), who’s been steady all the way back to the end of June, gets the call tonight for the Rockies, facing Cleveland ace Corey Kluber (9-3, 2.77) in a 5:10 MT start at Progressive Field, where Flo is sure to be on-hand to greet the paying customers.  Senzatela will be back on the hill at 10:10 in the morning Wednesday against Trevor Bauer, then Colorado is off to the exotic climes of southern Florida for 3 with the Marlins on the weekend.  The Rockies are 5 better than Cleveland at this stage of the season, and 12 better than the Marlins, but a history of Colorado teams, the one that wears orange and blue included, in the city of Miami makes the final leg of the long trip as trying a challenge as the first.

The Rockies return to Denver August 14 for a 7-game stand versus Atlanta and Milwaukee before a day off and another trip through Kansas City and more Braves in Georgia.

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rockymountainhigh
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rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

I don’t care if u are Holland, Janssen, or Marisno Rivera, 2 WALKS WALKS WALKS WALKS plus over 25 pitches you’re out out the game. It’s my lifelong preaching that BB are almost always followed by XBH. When are u going to learn this lesson Rockies?????

rockymountainhigh
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rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

Did you read on Purple Row that the Rockies did offer CarGo an extension during the off season?? For the first time ever, I do like Scott Borass. He probably told CarGo not to take the offer so he can get more money. Thank you very much, Scotty!

rockymountainhigh
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rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

That’s what I’m talking about….just 1 WALK WALK WALK over last 4.1 innings by bullpen. And that was after Otto got pulled for issuing WALK. Finally learned my lesson Rockies!

I should note that today that Cleveland got a bitter taste of what it is like to have Grady Sizemore on the other team. Way to go Chuck Nazty.

sdcarp
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sdcarp
3 years ago

What a great (mini) series. Had a playoff feel. This won’t be a popular opinion, but I felt like the Indians deserved to win last night. Kluber was great. That being said, I’m super impressed with the fight the Rox showed today.

I’m going to apologize in advance if I jinx us, but I feel we’re on the verge of a hot streak beginning with the Braves series.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

I have no problem if we came within one strike of snatching a game from Kluber and still losing it. It’s more of a problem when walks are the culprit and losing 2 straight games in 9th inning that is gut wrenching. I just wish we got one of the two games we lost in the 9th. About CarGo…don’t u think Justin Turner has a very similar big step and timing of a long swing? I believe he’s older than… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago

1) Whew! 2) What more is there to say about Charlie F. Blackmon? 3) Trevor being Tulo and Mark being Todd to end the game. 4) Chatty looking good in that role! 5) I’ve been educated a lot by some of the TV talking heads on what’s wrong with Cargo. Picking up his front leg too soon and thus taking the load (power source) off the back leg, erasing his power and timing, basically. That was interesting to me. 6)… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
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rockymountainhigh
3 years ago
Reply to  roxnsox

Three division winners are #1 #2 and #3 based on best records in order. Most likely Dodgers, Nationals, and Central division winner (Cubs/Cards/Brewers) in that order. Two wild cards to best two non-division winners. Rockies and Arizona are comfortably sitting in the two WC seats. But we have to scoreboard watch Cubs, Cards, and Brewers to make sure they don’t catch us. Whomever has a better record will be home for the WC game. Only one game. Winner plays #1… Read more »

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago

Yikes. So we hope we beat out the Snakes for the privilege of hosting them for one home game (I believe these two teams will hold on to the WCs; don’t hunt me down if I just jinxed us), and then we got to go through the Dodgers in a short series. Yikes.

Bill
Bill
3 years ago

Can’t believe I was rooting for the Dodgers the last couple of nights but I was. Luckily I didn’t watch the end of the game on Tuesday night as we were out to dinner with good friends who aren’t baseball fans. (Only a few of those exist). And today I was too busy to watch and/or listen but almost had a heart attack when I saw how we won. Rockies still have to learn to hit away from home. Perhaps… Read more »

sdcarp
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sdcarp
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill

This reminds me of a great trivia question/answer:

For a long time Fulton County Stadium had the highest elevation of any Major League ballpark at about 950 ft. Then Coors was constructed. Then the Phoenix ballpark (which is at 1050 ft). Atlanta’s move north (Suntrust) gained about 25 ft, to 975 ft., still lagging just barely behind Phoenix.

roxnsox
roxnsox
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Bill – the pennant winner with the better record gets home field. I sure hope the Yankees-Rockies are never the matchup! I would be too sickened if the Yankees won 😉 You, however, would be in pretty much a win-win situation 🙂 Although I’ve got to say that when the Red Sox swept the Rockies in ’07 I was not feeling too much like a winner. There’s always a #1 in our hearts, I guess – the Rox!

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

We’re playing in Miami not Atlanta this weekend.

Bill
Bill
3 years ago

Right about Miami. I was looking ahead of myself and thinking that maybe I can get to a game during the Braves service. Roxnsox thanks for the info. I think that’s a fairer way although each team in WS will have entirely different schedules and may not have even played against each other. And if Yanks and Rocks do meet I would be rooting for the Rocks. I found that out in 2007 when my daughter bought two great seats… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
3 years ago

I’m at the train station platform and the status sign says, “Go Broncos.” That’s terrible when there is no mention of Rockies. Broncos are playing an exhibition game while the Rockies are solidly in the playoff race. Good grief.

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