You know your team is having a bad year when even a big win against baseball’s top team comes with self-imposed controversy.
Such is life as a Rockies Fan, circa 2012.
Coming into Arlington the team had pretty much the exact inverse relationship to the Rangers record (26-42 vs 43-27), so it came as no surprise that the team would drop the first game in ho-hum fashion, losing 4-1 and handing Oswalt his first win as a Ranger.
Saturday, day six of the “4 Man Laughing Stock Rotation” experiment, figured to be more of the same.
That is until the team decided to turn Ranger Stadium into a Coors Field batting practice session.
The hitting got interesting in the top of the third, with Jordan Pacheco up and one out. He started what turned into a string of singles that saw the team put up four runs. Cargo, Giambi, Colvin and Nelson all got in on the action.
Then in the top of the fourth Dex, Johnny, Jordan and Cuddy combined to score three more with the doubles by the Sparkplug and Cuddyer making the highlights.
Not finished yet, a rarity for a team that scores early but not often, the top of the fifth was just as exciting, if not more so, thanks to the long ball. Nelson (double), Nieves (HR) and Dex (HR) in back-to-back fashion, brought the score to 11-1.
Surely 10 more runs than your opponent is enough, right?
And this is where the glaring error in the “4 man, 75 pitch” experiment was placed front and center.
ANY pitcher starting a game, when their own team has a 10 run lead, can usually expect to walk with the win – barring injury or illness.
That is, any pitcher but Mr. O’Dowd’s starting four.
HISTORY LESSON FOR THE NIGHT: A starting pitcher, in order to get the win, must complete five innings in order to be eligible for the win.
KEY STAT FOR THE NIGHT: In order for a pitcher, who is on a 75 pitch count limit, to complete five innings, he must pitch (on average) 15 pitches per inning.
Now, pitch counts are extremely controversial. With many detractors, as well as history showing how arbitrary and inane it is, it is obviously only truly loved by agents and owners, both wanting to “protect” their prized possessions.
Ironically, one of the biggest voices against pitch counts is none-other than Rangers Owner, and pitching legend, Nolan Ryan.
Which brings us to why the Rockies starting staff should boycott the mound until this perfect storm of stupidity has passed.
Josh Outman had pitched extremely effectively through four, giving up only one run on five hits. Four of the five hits were singles, with the only run coming off a solo HR in the fourth. He had a perfect third inning, not to mention striking out Josh Hamilton in the first.
Outman was sitting at 69 pitches after four and the team was sporting a 10 run lead.
So, Tracy hands him the ball and, “told him it was his inning”.
It was an inning that began well, with a fly out and a strike out (of Hamilton again) in-between a single and a walk. But then the cracks started to show in the paint.
Two back-to-back RBI singles is all it takes for Tracy to un-tell him it is his inning.
The team is still up by eight runs with two outs, but that doesn’t matter, because the 75 pitch count trumps the win any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
Enter Ottavino, exit ball stage center and instantly the Rangers are three runs closer to the Rockies. Five pitches later and another run is shaved off the lead.
Once the dust settled, the Rangers put a six-spot on the scoreboard and were only down 11-7 in the fifth. Outman was charged with five of the runs, although Ottavino handed him two with his poorly placed slider.
The Rockies were able to hold the lead, thanks in part to excellent pitching by the Killer B’s (Brothers, Belisle and Betancourt), but Outman didn’t get the win.
And that is exactly why Outman, and the rest of them, should boycott the season. Obviously it would never happen, since no pitcher wants to not pitch. But, one look at the lines of the starting four come season end, and you’d think with all of the microscopic numbers bound to be in the W column, it will seem like none of them really pitched anyway.