Well, if there was any illusion that the 2012 Rockies had things figured out, that bubble was burst by tonight’s game in Houston. Plenty of people had something to prove, not the least of which was Jamie Moyer, who at 49 would have been the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a game. He’ll have to wait for another day, though, because some bad defense and a couple of mistake pitches cost him the chance to win this one.
Beyond Moyer, the whole team was in a position to show that yesterday was no fluke, and that they can do the little things right. But, oh wait – they can’t.
Let’s talk about Moyer a little bit more. Quite honestly, I’m satisfied with this outing from him. Yes, he gave up 2 home runs in 5 innings and that’s too many. In one case, though, it was a 2-run homer that should have been a solo shot if not for some errors (yes, that’s plural). And besides those, he only allowed 3 hits. It was a Kevin Millwood start. Of course, we’ll expect the occasional home run, but we’ll also expect inning-ending double plays, and we got those too. Moyer knows how to stop the bleeding. This one was not his fault, because the Rockies lost by more than the number of earned runs he allowed (3).
So whose fault was it? Tyler Chatwood? Well, Chatwood didn’t help matters. When he came into the game in the 6th, the Rockies were down 4-0. Chatwood’s job was to keep that score from getting any worse so that the Rox might have a chance to come back and rally. Instead, he gave up 2 hits in each of his 2 innings, and tacked a pair of runs onto the Astros total.
Josh Roenicke, in the 8th, was less than perfect as well. He allowed a lead-off double, then a walk, then threw a wild pitch that moved the lead runner to 3rd. A passed ball by Ramon Hernandez allowed the run to score. Roenicke did redeem himself partially with a great defensive play to get the runner going from 2nd to 3rd and a strikeout to end the inning. Still, when the game is already going badly, let’s not make it worse.
The offense wasn’t what it needed to be tonight, either. And without that, it didn’t much matter what the pitchers were doing. The Rockies didn’t score at all until the 8th, when Michael Cuddyer put them on the board with a solo home run. Then they got up a mini rally in the 9th, when Dexter Fowler led off with a single and Troy Tulowitzki sent him home with a triple. A Todd Helton groundout scored Tulo before Cuddy ended the game with a strikeout. But Cuddy was the only guy with more than 1 hit, and several guys, including Helton, Hernandez, and Chris Nelson, had none. The middle of the order never clicked in the same inning, so they couldn’t get each other in. Baserunning didn’t help; Tulo ended the 4th when he was caught stealing 2nd, and Carlos Gonzalez ran from 3rd with the infield in on a weak groundout by Tulo. He was out at the plate by a mile. Those are runs we can’t afford to have erased.
Perhaps worst of all, this lack of offense came at the hands of Lucas Harrell, whose grin once he got back to the dugout at the 7th-inning stretch could have lit up Minute Maid Park with the roof on. The Rockies have their work cut out for them trying to produce against the pitchers in the division. They cannot make it this easy on guys like Harrell.
And then there was that awful defense. It was worst in the 4th, when Brian Bixler grounded to Nelson at 3rd. His defense there is usually very good, but he overthrew trying to make the play at 1st. Then Marco Scutaro, scrambling to the line trying to back up Helton, muffed the throw to 2nd, allowing Bixler to go all the way to 3rd with no outs on what should have been an easy groundout. Of course, he scored when J.D. Martinez took Moyer deep. Two batters later, Scutaro struggled to field a groundball off the bat of Chris Johnson. It had a lot of spin, so he’s partially excused, but he needs to make that play.
It’s the second game of the season, so I’m no more inclined to make blanket statements than I was after the first game yesterday. But this was disheartening. The little mistakes, the shoddy defense, the careless baserunning: these are the things that cost the Rockies so many one-run games they should have won last year. If those things weren’t cleaned up in spring training, I don’t know what those guys spent their time on. It’s frustrating to think that we could be in for another full season of bad fundamentals, especially with a team as talented as this.
The rubber match takes place tomorrow afternoon in Houston, with Juan Nicasio taking the mound for his first major league start since he broke his neck last July.