When things are going bad, thing happen. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in momentum. When you are struggling, you find a way to make the one mistake that costs you. And tonight it cost them.
Tyler Matzek pitched okay. He only gave up 2 ER in 5 innings. But he could not locate his fastball…at all. So pitching pretty much with slider and change, he worked around seemingly nothing but walks. He and Butler are getting away with a lot of walks. But they get ground balls to get double-plays. Both pitchers pitched well enough (sort of) to win. But 5 innings after the mess of the past 5 games (no pitcher giving a quality start) put the pen in trouble. At 85 pitches did Matzek tell Weiss he was done? Was there any thought of running him out there for the 6th?
Since he did not, it was up the great Brooks Brown, who had a good 6th, and then got into trouble in the 7th, and with 2 outs and a run in, Rafeal Bettencourt came on to get the final out. Score still positive, now 5-3.
Bettencourt starts the 8th, gave up a single but got the first out. In came Boone Logan. Made sense, you have a lefty in Alonso coming up, get a double-play and get it done. Logan gets to a 2 strike advantage and…hits Alonso. And thus began the implosion. Pinch-hitter Solarte comes in, hits a looper to score a run (good pitch, bad result). Then a play that seemed to preserve the lead and victory. On a suicide squeeze Logan got to the ball, fired a fastball, and Hundley (who we now agree does the basic things you need and which we have not seen in many years from a catcher), caught it, turned and nailed the sliding Alonso. Great play, and now two outs.
On another soft looper early in the game the stuck-in-a-slump CarGo threw another on target bullet to Hundley who, after a game of tag where Ynoa, playing for the hurt Arenado, fired a horrible ball back to Hundley, who caught it and tagged out our old friend Barmes.
With all the walks, hit-bats, and hits, how was the team leading in the 8th? Simply put, great defensive plays. Earlier we saw another highlight reel play by DJ where he dove, caught the ball in his glove, threw it to Tulo from his glove in one motion, for a double play. WHIP tells us how many base runners a pitcher faces. It doesn’t tell how us how great their defense is that allows such low ERAs.
Back to the 8th, now 2-out, Logan facing…a righty, Wil Myers, who hit a soft fly that fell in front of Charlie Blackmon and scored Solarte…barely, as Blackmon also put a great throw on target. But all for not, as the game was tied 5-5. Weiss visits the mound.
Now most of us were calling for arguably the best reliever in the NL to come in for a 4 out save. You know, the type of save Gossage, Sutter, Fingers and other greats used to get. Had he faced Myers would the score have remained 5-4? Would the inning be over? We will never know. But on a night where Logan was just off (the hits to this point weren’t hard, but just enough), Weiss decided to leave him in to face Derek Norris, another righty. You can guess the results – 2 run double, 7-5 Padres. Logan got Kempt to fly out to Stubbs (who nearly caught the double…just short), and the inning was over.
Hawkins pitched a seemingly meaningless 9th, and the offense, which had continued to miss most of the night, had to face the best closer in baseball – Craig Kimbrel. Now Kimbrel hates Coors. Which is fine. And he was greeted by Nick Hundley with a deep fly, making the score 7-6.
Hundley was a big part of the offense in this game. Earlier in the game after a seeing eye single by Justin Mornea, he hit a triple past a diving Matt Kemp. Yes folks, a triple. And yes, with Dickerson and Arenado on the bench with injuries and Stubbs a strikeout machine, we had Hundley batting 5th and DJ 6th. And DJ drove in Hundley with a sharp grounder to make it 2-2 at the time.
Then in the bottom of the 5th Tyler Matzek hit a hard grounder for a single, Ynoa hit a very light grounder for an infield single, and they were brought hope by a big deep fly triple for Blackmon, who finally seems to be barreling up balls). Charlie came home on a Tulo sac fly, and the Rox had a 5-3 lead. But they got zip, no hits or walks, in the 6,7, and 8th innings. Your offense cannot go that dormant. It does catch-up to you, and did when the Pads came back against a spent bullpen, that seems to need Axford more and more each day (but who rightfully is watching over his very sick 2 year old son – get better little Rockie).
And indeed, after the Hundley homer Kimbrel settled down, getting Rosario on a K, Dickerson on a hard grounder, and Daniel Descalso, the last out (tell me that wasn’t a moment of despair), who popped out. Game over.
The Rockies are now in the midst of a serious 5 game slide and are…1-4 at Coors! Even when Rox teams strink (and I don’t think this one does), they win at home.
And so…the talk has to be about Weiss’s future as Rockies manager. Back in 2009 after a similar bad start Clint Hurdle was fired (and replaced with unimpressive Jim Tracy, who only does well in the year he comes in for a fired coach). Is it time to put the pressure on Weiss, especially for his lineup and bullpen choices? I like Weiss, I really do. But not everyone has what it takes to manage. Maybe missing those years in the minors learning does hurt. We shall see.
Its not Weiss’s fault though that CarGo is in a world class funk, Tulo is stuck and the team’s two best young players are hurt. He is dealing with a bad deck right now.
For now, the fans are getting really restless and it is showing at the ballpark as attendance slides. Come on Rox, give us a reason to believe and come out and see.