I think the plate appearance that most perfectly captures last night's game is Carlos Gonzalez leading off the bottom of the 9th. We all know Cargo has been struggling, and when he came to the plate then he was 0-for-26. So it's no surprise that he was determined to get on base, however he had to do it, and try to contribute to his team. He laid down a pretty great-looking bunt on the third base side, and beat the throw to 1st. It felt like maybe the Rockies could get something going at that point. It was the first time they'd had their lead-off man on base all night, and Tulo was coming to the plate. Sure thing, right?
Well. Tulo reached base, but only because his ground ball was so expertly fielded by Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno for the out at 2nd. And then Todd Helton flied out and Ryan Spilborghs struck out swinging, so Cargo's base hit didn't actually advance a runner past 1st. At that point, though, we weren't expecting that, because the Rockies only got a runner in scoring position twice in the ballgame, and both times that runner never made it to 3rd base.
What's going on? Can anybody tell me? Seriously. I'll take just about any explanation that doesn't sound crazy at this point. The Rockies are not hitting, and it doesn't make any sense. Thanks to reliable pitching and mistakes by the opposing team, they've still been able to keep from going on a losing streak, but the team batting average is .236. That's good for 12th in the National League. If it doesn't change, there is most certainly a losing streak in our future.
The thing that's so puzzling is who is struggling and where. Troy Tulowitzki had 7 home runs in the first 12 games of the season, but he hasn't managed to hit one in the 11 games since. Not all of those games have been played at Coors Field, but some of them have. And yet Tulo has only homered in two games at Coors this season, way back on April 5th and 6th versus the Dodgers. Where's his boomstick? And there's Cargo, whom we've already discussed. Dexter Fowler and Todd Helton have both dropped below .300, and Ryan Spilborghs, Jose Lopez, and Chris Iannetta are still in the lowly .100's. The team as a whole has a 10-3 record on the road and a 6-5 record at home. What's. Going. On.
The thing I want to believe is that, because I know without a doubt that the offensive potential is still there, at some point the bats will come back and we'll be unstoppable. We're not playing great right now, but again, there's no losing streak. The pitching has been so good that, if these guys could just get some run support, the Rockies will take off. Last night, Jhoulys Chacin went 7 innings and gave up only 6 hits. Unfortunately, two of those his were solo home runs to Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Then he gave up a single to Pedro Alvarez followed by a triple to Ronny Cedeno in the 7th. So it wasn't a perfect performance, but no one can say it wasn't good. He threw 101 pitches, 69 for strikes, and struck out 8 Pirates. You can't argue with that.
Then Felipe Paulino, Franklin Morales, and Matt Belisle actually combined for a hitless 8th and 9th. If you'd asked me to pick three relievers I thought least likely to accomplish that, those are the ones I would've picked. So the fact that they managed that is reasonably impressive. Morales even struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced.
I wish I had some words of hope to offer, but until we (and by we, I mean Jim Tracy and Carney Lansford) figure out what the heck's going on, we can't even be sure we'll beat the Pirates at Coors. That does not bode well for us playing the Giants at AT&T Park, the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, or the Brewers at Miller Park, all of which we'll be doing in May. Tracy says he thinks Cargo just needs to get a couple of good hits and that will get him going. I'm sure he's right, but Cargo has to get those hits first. Our pitching can hold up their end of the bargain, but in the meantime, can the offense do enough to keep the Rockies alive?