Oh, come on, winning streaks are boring.
After pulling out a victory when on their last out the night before the Rox faced the best pitcher in baseball (even he hasn’t been great this year) while sending out their “best” pitcher this year – Eddie Butler.
That was what going to be the storyline. Sadly, much like Tyler Matzek’s last game, the season-long ability to escape runs despite lots of runners finally ended. Matzek had allowed only 2 runs or less all season (granted only going 6 innings once), and so his ERA remained low. But it all blew up and now he is back trying to find the strike zone in Colorado Springs, replaced by Chad Bettis.
Not Butler ran out of luck. He couldn’t even get through the third inning, not least because of bad defense. After getting a strike-out to start the game (something that should be more common but hasn’t been so far), he gave up a long ball to Rollins to get behind the flood early. He then pulled out – at least for 1st inning – a classic Butler inning. Single to Hendricks, walk to Adrian Gonzalez, got a pick-off of Kendrick at 2nd, gave-up a single to Justin Turner, and then a walk to Yasmani Grandal. But thanks to a Ethier line-out to Tulo, he escaped giving just 1 run. And he did it in less than 40 pitches (39, but less than 40).
He got through the 2nd with just a hit-by-pitch and walk of the pitcher (yes, really), but got through with a double-play, no runs and only 16 pitches.
But then there was the 3rd. And it was all over for Butler:
Single to Kendrick
Error on Rosario to make it 2nd and 3rd (to be fair if Morneau was there it might have been a double-play)
Turner double -2 runs
Grandal groundout – Turner to 3rd
Ethier single, Turner scores
Walk to Van Slyke (You knew there had to be one walk in the inning, right?)
Kershaw out on a sac bunt
Butler done. 83 pitches. 45 strikes. 4 runs 3 earned runs. 6 hits. And of course 4 walks vs. 1 K.
I still think Butler can be a good starter, even a more front end (2nd or 3rd starter), but he has no confidence in his stuff and he cannot throw strikes to start an at-bat, or when he needs to. If anyone else was ready I think he would benefit from following Matzek. I had almost believed (as I wrote last night) it was right to have him up at the major league level. But no. He needs to get his control issues worked out.
There is no one else at AAA ready. I can see them pulling Ryan Carpenter or even Shane Carle coming up to fill out the rotation. At least they can throw strikes (33:10 for Carpenter and 24:6 for Carle).
Something has to change. You have to have pitchers throw strikes and get your great defense into the game. I think there is a chance we could see some of these other guys at least provide a 5th starter level of performance. And give Butler, Grey, and Matzek time to work through their issues.
After Butler’s implosion Yohan Flande came in and gave them 3.1 innings of decent work. He allowed 5 hits and 2 runs but just 1 walk with 1K. In the 4th he gave up a single and double, but got a double-play that gave up a run but made the inning short. In the 5th he gave up a single off Rosario, a fly-out, exchanged the runner for Kershaw on a bunt, another single, then another single to score Kershaw. Then close out the inning. That is not great work, but decent work. I think Flande might be in the rotation soon. Or Bergman. One of the two long-men.
After them the team got a great outing from Christian Friedrich (shaking off the over-work perhaps), with 2Ks and no runners. Boone Logan also had a nice outing, allowing one-hit while getting 2Ks. He too seems to be getting back in the groove.
So, the relief pitching was solid last night. The starting pitching was a mess.
As for the offense, it looked promising in the 1st when Blackmon and Arenado singled (around another Tulo K), but Rosario struck-out and CarGo flied out. The offense essentially was done from the 2nd to the 6th inning.
In the 7th there was a big moment of hope. Just as in the last two playoff appearances, Kershaw hit a wall and gave up runs.
CarGo single to center (another nice AB)
Hundley ground-out, CarGo made it to 2nd
Stubbs Kd (no, really)
And then with 2-outs, the team got it going.
DJ single to right to score CarGo
McKenry as a PH walked to get Kershaw out of the game
Blackmon then singled off Paco Rodriguez on a line against the lefty – bases loaded
Descalso – who came in for a leg-injured Tulo (really) and wacked a ball that nearly got out, to clear the bases. Had he hit the ball out it might have been a bit more dramatic, as it would have been a one-run game, which changes the whole approach going forward. Instead, he ended up at 2nd.
Arenado walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate against CarGo’s batting practice mate, Yimi Garcia
And Rosario, facing a pitcher struggling with command, who had given up home runs his last two outings….struck out!
In the 8th they got CarGo to 2nd on a passed ball and stolen base, but then Stubbs struck-out (a common theme I guess) as did DJ against Dodger closer Kenley Jansen, just off the DL.
The 9th too there was a chance. Corey struck-out against Adam Liberatore. Then Charlie Blackmon singled, Desclaso singled (his best game so far this season) to put the tying run at 2nd. Then came in Juan Nicasio.
Now I point blank asked why did Bridich dump Nicasio, who last year after going to the pen was quite a nice weapon, as his fastball slider combo was all he needed. He showed it the prior evening, and he showed it last night.
With runners at 2nd and 1st….Arenado struck-out. Then both runners stole bases to put the tying runs just a single away.
And Wilin Rosario….struck out again. Game over
If there is such a thing as a good loss, that felt like one. After getting awful starting pitching their bullpen held the game close, and after being stifled for 6 innings they came alive in the 7th and were it not for the Rockies real offensive issue this year – the strike out, they might have scored in the 8th and 9th.
And I always wonder if Descalso’s hit had been just a few feet higher if in a one-run game they could have found a way to get the one run. Strategy gets different when it is just one run.
So, the Rox lost again. But they seem to be finding themselves. But…
Too many strikeouts
Too many walks from pitchers
Another Tulo injury plus his really so-so play this year
CarGo still trying to get all the way back
Rosario and inadequate option for Morneau
But…there is still hope. Get them the next day.