Friday, May 27, 2011

Rockies = Slump Killers

Rockies 3, Cardinals 10

Here's a theory: what if the Rockies, after doing so well in April, realized that they were denying their fans the opportunity to see them win 21 of 22 games in September and come from behind to take the division? What if they thought, hey. This isn't how we operate. We're supposed to suck in the spring so that at the end of the season, we can go on a tear and give our fans another September to remember. Let's start losing in really embarrassing ways.

Well. It's a theory anyway. Here are a few confirmed facts: 1) Brandon Crawford, the minor-leaguer the Giants called up to replace Buster Posey in the lineup, hit a grand slam in just his third major league at-bat in Milwaukee yesterday. It was the difference in the game, because the Giants won 5-4. 2) The Cardinals' Colby Rasmus, prior to arriving at Coors Field yesterday, was 1-for-25. Last night, he went 4-for-5 with a pair of triples, off two different pitchers, and he drove in 3 of the Cards' runs. 3) Felipe Paulino, of whom the Rockies community was so happy to be rid, made his debut for the Royals last night. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up 1 hit and no runs. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from those three pieces of information.

I want Ubaldo Jimenez to win a game so bad I feel actual pain in my chest when I see him start to lose. Cold comfort is the fact that he actually did deserve to lose this game, as opposed to his last couple of starts. In 6 innings pitched, he gave up 6 runs on 12 hits. For once he only walked 2, but if you give up 12 hits, the number of walks you allow is irrelevant. His ERA leaped to 5.86. I want to give him a big giant hug. Then I want to send him to Asheville for the rest of the season.

Of course, the game was lost long before the bullpen got involved, but they weren't that great either. Matt Daley, whose previous 4 appearances were better than good, pitched 1 inning and gave up 3 runs on 2 hits (one of which was the second Rasmus triple). Bruce Billings, in his major league debut, got both Rasmus and Albert Pujols to ground into double plays, but he also gave up a run on 5 hits in 2 innings pitched. I saw one inning last night that was acceptably pitched, and that was Ubaldo's 5th.

Offensively, at first it looked as though the Rox might actually keep pace with the very very hot-hitting Cardinals. Matt Holliday's quad injury seemed like it might give us a fighting chance, since the combination of Pujols, Holliday, and Lance Berkman spells doom for just about any pitcher right now. But Pujols and Berkman did plenty in Holliday's absence, and the Rockies stopped hitting after the 3rd inning.

After a scoreless 1st, Troy Tulowitzki drew a lead-off walk in the 2nd. Todd Helton grounded out and moved Tulo to 2nd. Ty Wigginton singled Tulo home. Ryan Spilborghs grounded out and moved Wiggy to 2nd. And Chris Iannetta doubled Wiggy home. It was a very good inning because the outs were actually productive. In both cases, they moved a runner into scoring position and allowed that runner to cross the plate on the next batter's hit. And after this inning, the Rockies were actually leading 2-1. That felt nice.

In the 3rd, with the Cards now leading 3-2, the Rockies struck again. Eric Young Jr. is finally back from Colorado Springs, and Lord knows we need his energy and his hustle. He hit a single to lead off the 3rd. Jonathan Herrera bunted him over. And Cargo's single allowed him to score. I'm so glad that he was able to score a run in his 2011 debut with the Rockies. I just wish it wasn't the last run the team scored in the game. After EY crossed the plate, things started to look a little more familiar. Tulo singled and Helton walked to load the bases with 1 out. Wiggy struck out and Spilly grounded into a force out. And they would not hit again.

The bright spot, besides the fact that the Rox were able to manufacture a few runs, was the defense. Spilly made a killer throw from right to prevent Daniel Descalso from scoring. The infield turned 3 double plays. And Ubaldo picked Berkman off 2nd base. Nobody made an error in this game. That's something.

Drew Goodman: "This was a 3-3 game, George. It's turned into an old-fashioned you-know-what." Certain words can no longer even be spoken aloud.

This is going to be a tough series. If the Rockies can't beat the Dbacks, they're not going to beat the Cardinals right now. As a team, the Cards are batting .285 (compared to the Rockies' .239). I think the best we can hope for is to get out of the series without giving up 19 hits per game. I hate to set the bar so low, but I'm tired of feeling sad, and I would like to have something to celebrate.

Tweet of the Game: @hitbyapitch offered a solution to this Rockies problem that I, and I'm sure you, had not yet considered: "Let's replace the Rockies pitching staff with dubstep DJs and see what happens." I'm in.

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