Just when we thought the miracle of Juan Nicasio was finally completed, the universe reminded us: it’s Sunday. And Jim Tracy is still your team’s manager. Bahahahahahaha!
How awesome was Nicasio? Well, in 7 innings he threw just 82 pitches, struck out 4 and walked 1, and only allowed 1 run on 5 hits. In other words, he was the boss. It’s still so amazing to me that this guy, less than nine months ago, was knocked over with a baseball that he had pitched and a batter had hit right back to him. Physical recovery notwithstanding, how does he get back on a mound in a live major league baseball game and pitch to batters who might do the exact same thing? Let alone totally dominate them? But he did. The man is a hero. Plain and simple.
And thanks to his brilliance, he very nearly recorded a win in his first trip to the mound since the incident. But he was thwarted by some crummy defense and relief work. In the 8th, Rex Brothers came into the game with a one-run lead and Nicasio’s W to protect. He was himself at first, getting two quick outs, but then he allowed back-to-back singles. To be fair, one was kind of a weird comebacker that even a Gold Glove pitcher couldn’t have fielded, but the fact remains that those were Brothers’s runners. And then Jordan Pacheco had a chance to eliminate those runners and end the inning, but instead he threw away a groundout and the score tied. The next batter to come up, Brian Bogusevic, drove in the go-ahead run on another single.
I have said this many times: Pacheco’s defense is not good enough. I don’t know if this is rectifiable. It sure seems like it’s not, because in every other way he’s major-league ready, but his glovework is still so shoddy. In one-run games like this one, those plays are crucial. Yes, Brothers allowed the men on base, but Pacheco has to do his part and make those plays. And, as he did not even contribute very much offensively today, he’s not on my good list. His bat has to be very hot in order for it to make sense to keep him in the lineup given the fielding issues. It was in spring training, but today it was not.
Some guys who did some worthwhile stuff at the plate: Michael Cuddyer hit his second double of the season, and is looking very impressive in the middle of the order. Wilin Rosario hit a towering 2-run home run that accounted for the Rockies’ only appearance on the scoreboard. Of course, he also struck out three times, proving that he has power but is still lacking in discipline. In all those cases, he had an opportunity to drive in runs and didn’t. If he’s going to get the honor of hitting 7th, something Chris Iannetta was almost never afforded, he has to get guys like Cuddy home.
This one wasn’t pretty, fans. The only pretty part was Nicasio, and he was so pretty he almost made up for the rest. But at the end of the season, what’s going to matter about this game was that it ended in the loss column. And Tracy proved that he intends to trot out his B lineup in the final game of every series just like he did last year. Because that worked so very well.