Does anyone really care on May 14th that the Rox are playing baseball? I mean anyone? Oh, right the Mets care because they are still hoping they can steal Tulo away (again, unless you get Harvey, it is the worst trade this team can make – never bet on “prospects”). But other than that?
On a night when the Rox finally get a great performance from Kyle Kendrick (3 out of 7 isn’t bad is it), of course the same day I painted him as a problem without a solution, they even scored early. But I don’t think anyone really thought 2 runs was going to win the game. But as we have seen all season, of the five parts of the team: starting pitching, relief pitching, offense, defense, and bench – at least two always seem to pull them down. Games they win (as in April) usually require 4 of the 5 at least. And a game with 5? I think that was opening day. When was that? I remember being younger…and more passionate.
Anyways, the game started in a way that should have told us all – Charlie weak ground-out, Tulo line-out, and CarGo strikeout. As the old saying goes: lather, rinse, repeat (I would like to just wash this team right out of my hair).
I have made the point that all through this losing streak the key fact offensively is the inability to string together hits. How many times the last two weeks do you remember 3 players reaching in the same inning? I guess they get a homer and a walk here and there (Colorado Rockies, world’s greatest solo homerun team). But hits that drive in runners and then get scored themselves? Wow, that would be nice.
Facing C.J. Wilson, the type of lefty that kills the Rox, they managed a soft single in the 2nd. Then in the 3rd, they scored. No, they didn’t run hits together. It went infield single, walk, sac-bunt (Blackmon), Tulo fly-out to centerfield (another fly ball without last year’s authority), and then an inning ending ground-out to short by CarGo. A run, but again, only 1 hit.
The 4th showed what this team needs to do, but also where it still fails and why this team is in real trouble despite having a great offensive lineup. A one-out (Nolan pop-out) double by Morneau, a line-out by Rosario, a Corey double to score Morneau, but it ended with just 1 run when Hundle struck out to end the inning.
The 5th? 1-2-3. The 6th? Another CarGo K, then a Nolan HBP, which was wasted with a Morneau K and a Rosario fly-out to centerfield. The 7th almost saw a rally. Dickerson got an infield single. Hundley flew out to centerfield, then DJ rolled over to short but a bad throw kept it from a double-play. Oh, and then DJ was picked off running to early (Wilson has always had a nice move in my opinion). The 8th? Charlie pop-out to short, Tulo K, CarGo pop-out to short. And finally the 9th? Nolan struck-out, Morneau flew-out to center, and Rosario ended the game on a swinging K.
When you can describe 5 innings of offense, in detail, in one paragraph, that isn’t bad. That is horrendous! As in it is time to make serious changes bad. Remember when this team was hitting well on the road? Ah, memories.
So part 1 of the teeam, offense, definitely a negative.
Starting pitching though was a positive. That rare bird, a quality start, was tossed by Kyle Kendrick. And really, other than one inning, and other than Kole Calhoun who owned him Tuesday night, he was in control the whole game. Even the 7th, he handled a but, struck-out Marc Krauss, gave up a double to Calhoun, and then got the great Mike Trout to fly-out to CarGo. Yes, Walt Weiss was concerned after the double and came out for a gut check with Kendrick, but Kendrick got strike one on a 90mph sinker and then the fly-out.
The only bad inning was the bottom of the 4th, after the Rox made it 2-0 (Rox pitchers have to learn to shut-down teams the half-inning after their offense scores). He got the first out then gave up a medium-soft single to left by Aybar, a hard single up the middle to Giavotella, and almost got out of the inning when Matt Joyce grounded softly to DJ but they just couldn’t turn the double play. Aybar scored on that out. Then brand-new Angels catcher Carlos Perez hit a nice hard line drive single to center to score Giavotella. He then got new first baseman Krauss to fly out.
But that was really the only bad inning. The only threatening inning. Only Kole Calhoun looked like he was really on Kendrick’s pitchers. In 7 innings he did give-up 7 hits, but 3 were in that 4th. He got 5Ks and had 0 walks (yes, another HBP, this time of Trout). He only needed 91 pitchers to go the 7 innings. Yes, that is right – 7 INNINGS!!! Someone repealed the law on Rockies’s starters going beyond the 6th. I for one was a little surprised he was pulled at only 91 pitches, with the primary reason being Albert Puljols coming up next inning, and against whom he had a bad record coming into the game. But really, this is not the same Puljols. And yes, the bullpen needed work, but when a guy is going good, don’t you let him go until he shows he is struggling? I would have ran him out for the 8th, but that is me.
So starting pitching – a big positive.
And then the bullpen came in. I love Rafeal Betencourt, and I think he is going to be key to a good bullpen this year. But he had not thrown since last Wednesday. Almost a week’s time, and for Rafeal control is his whole game. And he was off after such a long rest. Betty proceeded to give up 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs, and yes, got two Ks, but didn’t get out of the 8th.
Kendrick was pulled because of Puljols. And Betty proceeded to give up a single to King Albert. Then Albert stole 2nd, a sign of how out-of-focus Rafael was in this game. Albert has had several surgeries on his feet the last few years, and is no longer a good runner (99 SB for a career isn’t that good, even if it was as a power hitter). Betty got what looked like a big K of Freese, but then walked Aybar to put men at 2nd and 1st. If he gets a double-play, he can get out of it. But Rafeal didn’t look like he was on last night, and it was clear early. But there was no net for him. So he gave up a single to Giavotella on a line to RF, and CarGo had one of his rare bad throws this year (he has been a very good defender in right despite the empty bat), to score Albert. At that point, game over. But the inning wasn’t. Struggling (as in CarGo struggling) Matt Joyce hit a line-drive double to center, scoring Aybar and Giavotella. Betencourt did get Perez to strike-out, but he didn’t have it, and so Ken Roberts came in to get the final out. Score 5-2.
So bullpen pitching, a huge, game costing negative.
The defense was pretty good last night. No major gaffs, nothing spectacular. The positioning on a few plays looked poor, but pitching locations can make those look that way.
So, defense a positive.
And bench? Well, two big things are highlighted last night. Wilin Rosario playing his natural position an 0-4 night, 1K, and left 3 men on-base. Simply a bad night from a hitter who has to be good if he is going to belong here.
And then there is the fact that Carlos Gonzalez is hitting third against a tough lefty tells you that eitehr someone had the strange idea he would get out of his funk against a tough lefty, or they simply don’t have real good option (read here, Drew Stubbs, the only non-pitcher hitting worse than CarGo right now). The lack of a deep bench, a full complement of hitters and defenders in the outfield, is hurting this team badly. Some of it is the need for more arms in the bullpen, but really, this bench is horrible. And it showed last nigth with Rosario’s failures and Stubbs not playing.
So bench, a negative.
Of the 5 areas of the game there were 3 big negatives, one big positive (starting pitching, who guessed I would write that last night), and an okay positive in defense.
And that is why this team has lost 10 straight games. That is why we simply don’t care anymore.
But…I still care a little. I still think this team isn’t this bad. But right now, it really is close to unwatchable. Or at least really boring.