NOTE: Apologies to the roxwalkoff community for Sunday. We had a situation arise with one of our children (he is what the doctors call pre bi-polar, and he had an episode on Sunday). The game chat was up late and the reprise is late too. Sorry about that. Then again…I am more sorry for enduring another frustrating loss.
COULD THIS BE YOUR STARTING CATCHER NEXT YEAR? NICE DINGER FOR McKENRY
On three straight days the Rockies sent 3 straight lefties, who, if they decide not to trade the first two and can resign Jorge De La Rosa, might well form the first 3 members of the 2015 starting rotation. On Friday, DLR had a great game for 6 innings, hurt only be a bad defensive play by Corey Dickerson, but going 6IP, 100 piches, 4 hits, 3BB, and 2Ks. . If you get 6 innings of 1 run ball and had the lead over 2-1, you expect to win, right? Saturday, Brett Anderson showed the promise that is his left arm, as he one-upped DLR, going 7 innings, 110 pitches, striking out the side in the 7th, allowing 4 hits, 1BB and with 8K, and left with a 2-1 lead. Once again, you expect to win, right? Sunday, Tyler Matzek, who along with the breakout seasons by Corey Dickerson and Tommy Kahnle is proving to be one of the bright spots of 2014, pitched another very solid game. Through 5.2 he had a 3-2 lead, but on a fastball very inside back-up catcher for the Pirates Chris Stewart turned on it and drove in the tying run. But Matzek closed out his business striking out the final hitter he faced, to finish with a line of 6IP, 99 pitches (61 strikes), 3BB, 8Ks and the 3 runs. With the score tied 3-3, you have to think you will find a way to win. But in each game the team was hurt by various factors. On Friday night the team played without Justin Morneau and Boone Logan, both with neck ailments. The lack of Justin at 1B hurt the defense, but also the offense as they managed only singles. Saturday Tulo left in the 4th inning, putting 3 very good players out of action, and the two runs scored on an Arenado double and a CarGo homer. In the 11th, without Logan, the team turned to Chad Bettis, and as we have seen several times already this season, they didn’t make it to the next half-inning, losing 3-2. Sunday started well. A two-run shot by Rutledge filling in for Tulo (though we would have preferred his offense from the 2B slot and having Tulo out there) and a solo shot by McKenry provided all the Rox offense. Jeff Locke is a tough lefty who has improved his ERA from 5+ to sub 3 going into the game, but getting 3 runs in a pitchers park, was a decent showing. But going 0-3 with RISP is another problem we have seen all season long. But the struggle this series, beyond the lack of consistent offense (all 5 runs the Rockies scored over the last 2 games were on homers, a trap this team has fallen into repeatedly this year), was the bullpen. Sunday it was Matt Belisle’s turn, as he faced 6 batters, gave up 4 hits, a walk and a homer while getting just the two outs. Brooks Brown did give the team a decent 1.1, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out 1, but did not damage. So the Rox head home on a 5 game losing streak, with its starting pitching performing its best in months, its offense stumbling, its defense forced to play 2 subs in the infield (crucial if you want ground-ball pitchers), the injuries once again limiting the team (no Logan, no Morneau (Culberson for all 3), and no Tulo the last 1.5), and with the bullpen still having the one bad inning that kills their chance to win each and every night. Nolan Arenado pointed out over the weekend that they are close – they aren’t losing games by big margins, they are in every game. So true…but that is what makes these injuries, these failed bullpen outings, these failed ABs with RISP so very hard to take. The good news for 2015 (assuming they don’t blow it all up) is that the easiest thing to do in baseball is rebuild a bullpen (look at the Red Sox from 2012 to 2013, though 2014 has been a return to form). You cannot control health…too much, aside from not relying on older players (interesting how most of the injuries have occurred to players under the age of 30), and they are building the potential for a very good rotation in 2015. But I have the sense it is going to be a long next few months.