Rockies 4, Braves 7
This was another one of those games when just too many ridiculous things went wrong. At some point I may get tired of chronicling these but you know what? I am no fair-weather fan. So here goes.
Jason Hammel had another one of those Huh?? starts, which he's been having about every other game this season. I still refuse to jump down his throat too hard, because he's still just a #5 starter. He's our Joe Blanton. A placeholder. Not to disrespect his talents or what he has brought to the table, because I think those things are well beyond what we expected, especially considering what he did in Tampa before he came to us. But he's not supposed to be brilliant every single time. So last night he wasn't, and the Rockies happened to be playing the Braves, who are brilliant, at least this season.
Hammel lasted 5 innings and allowed 6 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits. He walked 3 and only struck out 1. That line is a loss 95% of the time. He was missing his spots; 2 of the runs he gave up were solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Eric Hinske, both of whom went deep on the first pitch of the at-bat. When Hammel is on, he will paint those corners all night long, but when he's off he can't seem to avoid the middle of the plate. That's what happened.
What also happened is Todd Helton committed his third error in two games. The consensus is that he can't be blamed for this one, and I tend to agree. The sun shines right on 1st base at Coors Field sometimes (hence Prince Fielder's need to borrow a fan's sunglasses the other night). Helton said that he normally reminds the other infielders to make low throws to compensate for that, but that he forgot to do so last night. So Ty Wigginton's throw was pretty high, and Helton lost it in the sun. Unfortunately, it was a costly error, as the bases were loaded with 2 outs. And the batter was Braves' pitcher Derek Lowe. Should have been an inning-ending groundout, instead it scored 2 runs. Tough break.
Also, the Rockies combined for only 5 strikeouts, and they batted .500 with runners in scoring position. Pretty good right? Not if you consider the fact that they hit into SEVENTEEN groundouts, 14 off Lowe. He is a good pitcher but he's not that good. Somebody ought to have been able to get the ball out of the infield. Instead, the only extra-base hit was a triple by Seth Smith, and he did it with 2 outs and nobody on. Earlier in the game, with 2 out and runners on the corners? Grounded out to 2nd.
The guys did put together a good 7th inning, with 4 singles, a walk, and a sac fly that scored 3 runs. All the runs were charged to Lowe, proof that he can be gotten to. Against Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, nobody could do anything. Which wasn't a surprise; against the Braves, you must get going before the 8th inning, because the back end of their bullpen is positively killer.
Our bullpen did some good work too. Eric Stults had a so-so inning in which he gave up 3 hits (one to Lowe) and a run. Rex Brothers was untouchable, as he seems to be about 3 out of 4 times at this point. And Rafael Betancourt had his second consecutive excellent outing, giving up a lead-off hit to Freddie Freeman in the 9th but then striking out the following 3 batters.
So some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff, some pretty bad stuff. That's the Rockies this season. If they could win one game against the Braves, I would be a happy Rockies Woman. Tonight, with Ubaldo Jimenez going against Brandon Beachy, seems like it might be their best chance.