The Colorado Rockies dropped their first series in six (depending how you count them) to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, finishing-up a full week with 4 wins and 3 losses and running their record to 23-17,
2-1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West Division. They get a bit of rest this week, playing 2 against the Royals in Kansas City between yesterday’s off-day and another one Thursday, before returning to Coors Field for a 3-game weekend series with the San Diego Padres. Then another off-day next Monday.
It was a schizophrenic week for the boys, who simply whooped-it-up on the Texas Rangers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before getting shut-out by the immortal Matt Harrison on Thursday. They got scalded by a Joey Votto walk-off on Friday then went back to the hammer Saturday before succombing to a one-run Homer Bailey-Aroldis Chapman strangling on Sunday. The offensive contrast between the wins and losses catches your eye: 8-12-9-0-3-11-1. Alfredo Simon will tell you: Don’t let the Rockies get on a roll.
It’s still a couple weeks until the season’s 1/3 marker, but after 40 games in 42 days (or whatever it was) we’ve got a pretty strong notion what we’ve got. The outfield is so deep a beloved veteran may end-up the odd man out. But we could use a power-hitting infielder who plays 1st and 3rd. The bullpen is so similarly deep a veteran may end-up the odd man out there, too. The rotation is held-together with duct-tape and baling wire. And the catching is covered but Rosario delivers a thump his backups can’t match. Thursday’s lineup versus Harrison wasn’t real fierce when Morneau took a breather.
The emergence Jordan Lyles and Charlie Blackmon has been the key story the first 40 games. Lyles’ strength and consistency have cemented him with Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin in the 1-2-3 rotation slots, and his performance has compensated first for Chacin’s injury and now for that of Tyler Chatwood. It’s also enabled the Rockies to cover the 4-5 spots in the rotation with 4 arms, 2 oft-injured, and 2 maddeningly inconsistent. Not surprisingly, the oft-injured ones are on the DL, with the maddeningly inconsistent ones providing the duct-tape and baling wire. But it’s working.
Similarly Colorado opened the season with 6 outfielders to cover 3 positions, although outfielders don’t tend to be as fragile as starting pitchers. Blackmon, frankly, was probably going to be the odd man out until he started playing. But .352/9/29 later he’s making Cargo look like a slacker and Big Money Michael Cuddyer look like a has-been. Blackmon’s been the missing ingredient that’s enabled the rest of the lineup to play their roles and rake their way to those 23 victories.
Alas, on come the Royals and ace right-hander James Shields (4-3, 2.70) tonight at 6:10 MDT at Kauffman Stadium in east Kansas City. The former Tampa Bay Ray has delivered 17 wins for the Royals in 42 starts since arriving in 2013. He defeated the Padres last Wednesday, holding them scoreless on 7 hits in 7 innings. Franklin Morales (3-2, 5.18) gets the call for the Rockies. Frankie was an innings-eater in Thursday’s loss to Harrison. He went 6, allowed 5 runs (4 earned), gave-up 6 hits, walked 3, and struck-out 5.
The Royals are 18-19 in 2nd place in the AL Central, 5-1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers, but the rest of the division trails them by only 1/2 game. KC is managed by Ned Yost and he’s got Nori Aoki leading-off in right field, and honesty compels me to confide he’s the only player in their lineup I’ve ever heard of. My friend Ray over there in Roeland Park reports that they’re “hitless wonders.”
Drew Goodman told me Corey Dickerson’s been using Troy Tulowitzki’s bats, which is confusing because Tulo’s got those boring black ones and Dickerson rocks those stylish red ones I spoke of so admiringly last week. Whatever, Corey’s the DH, batting 2nd. Nolan Arenado appears to be locked into the no. 5 slot, and Brandon Barnes will be the right-fielder as Big Money Mike remains on the DL, day-to-day.
It’s cloudy in west-central Missouri, but it’s not raining, and game-time temperature will be 61º. Relative humidity will be 47% with a 10 MPH wind blowing across from 3rd to 1st. I’m guessing George Frazier’s joining Drew on the play-by-play on TV for ROoT Sports. Radio listeners can catch Jerry Schemmel and Jack Corrigan on KOA 850 am.
Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
Corey Dickerson (L) DH
Troy Tulowitzki (R) SS
Carlos Gonzalez (L) LF
Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
Justin Morneau (L) 1B
Brandon Barnes (R) RF
Jordan Pacheco (R) C
DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
|KANSAS CITY (18-19)
Nori Aoki (L) RF
Eric Hosmer (L) 1B
Billy Butler (R) DH
Salvador Perez (R) C
Alex Gordon (L) LF
Danny Valencia (R) 3B
Johnny Giavotella (R) 2B
Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
Alcides Escobar (R) SS