Last night I attended my very first interleague game at Coors Field (not my first ever - I have been to ones at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field). I was pretty excited to see the Rockies take on an American League opponent, especially since they typically play well in interleague. However, knowing that it was the Angels they’d face didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
One pleasant surprise though: I thought the Angels’ offense would hammer on Alex White, and they didn’t. The difference between the Alex White we’re seeing now and the one we saw last fall cannot be overstated. He’s not a perfect pitcher by any means, but he works more quickly and more confidently, and he’s getting a heck of a lot more ground balls. It’s all very promising. Of course, the issue with him is still that he can’t afford mistakes. Mistakes get launched out of the ballpark by Torii Hunter – twice. With Mike Trout on base both times. But aside from those two pitches, White did some excellent work. He didn’t walk a single batter and he struck out 6. As White outings go, it was near the top. It’s just too bad that Torii Hunter knows how to wait for a pitch to hit, and that White had to face off against C.J. Wilson.
Which brings us to the bad news. The Rockies had no idea how to hit Wilson. Even on his best days, he can be a little wild, but they only managed to squeeze one walk out of him. And they struck out 9 times, 11 counting the 2 recorded by Jordan Walden in the 9th. Of those 11, 8 came from the 1-4 hitters, which explains why there was hardly ever anybody on base to drive in. I’m not going to make any grand sweeping statements about the condition of the offense based on this game, because the truth of the matter is that it was C.J. Wilson. He’s not bulletproof, but there’s a reason the Angels gave him a bajillion dollar contract when they signed him in the offseason. I feel better about being dominated by a guy like that than a guy like Spuds McGee, or whoever we got beat by when Seattle was in town.
A minor gripe: Michael Cuddyer flew out to right field in the 5th and Todd Helton thought it might be a good idea to go to 3rd instead of staying safely on 2nd. I knew how this was going to end from the moment he took his first step. Don’t run on a guy like Torii Hunter! Especially if you’re a guy like Todd Helton! Come on, I expect him to know better than to make a blunder like that at this point.
A minor celebration: Wilin Rosario hasn’t thrown a ball into the outfield in a long time. He is learning when to concede the stolen base and when to try to make the throw. He did allow Mike Trout to steal twice last night (not that it mattered, since the next batter in both cases was Homerin’ Hunter), but he also gunned down Howie Kendrick. Baby steps.
A MAJOR GRIPE: I will tell you this right now, if Esmil Rogers continues to remain a part of the Rockies roster, that might be enough to send me over the edge. I don’t understand why he ever gets put in the game, but especially in the 9th inning when the Rockies are only down by 3! They have made bigger comebacks than that, and why you’d make that even harder on them is beyond me. But that’s what Jim Tracy did when he gave old Esmil the ball. Esmil, the only pitcher on the staff with an ERA over 8.00, saw 7 batters and only recorded 2 outs. He also dug the Rockies even deeper into their hole to the tune of 3 more runs before Tracy finally replaced him with Matt Reynolds. It was so painful to watch, I could hardly blame all the people that got up and left the game during that inning.
Naturally, the Rockies did start a rally in the 9th with a Helton single and a Jordan Pacheco triple. Not to say they would have scored more runs had the deficit been less, but I guess we’ll never know.
The Rockies continue their series against the Angels this afternoon as Jeff Francis makes his 2012 debut back in a Colorado uniform.