I never like it when our pitchers give up 10 runs, but this was loads better than that 10-0 mess at the hands of the Diamondbacks earlier this week. At least the offense came out fighting and didn’t let go until the final moments. Said final moments, unfortunately, were destroyed at the hands of the evil empire/umpire. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s start with pitcher Christian Friedrich, who has been quite good this year, and who came into this game with substantially better numbers than the Angels’ Ervin Santana. Friedrich struggles at home, though, and today he gave up three moon shots that made it clear just how hard it is for him to control his location at Coors. All three went out on off-speed pitches, which is what will ultimately determine whether Friedrich makes his career in Colorado or not. His ability to throw his changeup and curveball well on the road is what has allowed him to have such success; at home, they don’t move nearly as much. He will have to learn to make adjustments to those pitches if he wants to be a good pitcher for the Rockies. Until then, guys like Mark Trumbo, who drove in 6 runs today, will eat him for lunch.
Friedrich also walked 3 and allowed 10 hits, so it’s no surprise that 9 runs scored off him. 3 of those runs scored before Friedrich could even record an out. And only 1 of the 9 runs wasn’t Friedrich’s fault. Albert Pujols reached on an error by Jordan Pacheco (who’s really improved at 3rd, but still isn’t our best option defensively over there) and then scored when Trumbo homered on Friedrich’s next pitch. Some pitchers are more easily rattled by bad defense than others, and it’s safe to say that Friedrich’s inexperience could create problems for him there.
The bullpen was close to flawless once again, though once again their efforts were in vain because the game was lost before they entered it. Big time kudos to Josh Roenicke‘s 5th, in which he had runners on the corners with 1 out and struck out Torii Hunter and Pujols. That’s especially impressive when you consider what those guys have done against the rest of our pitching in this series. Rex Brothers and Rafael Betancourt each pitched a perfect inning. Only Matt Belisle allowed a run, but that’s a rare event for him, and he kept it to the one despite another error.
Somebody at mlb.com has their wires crossed (maybe it’s the same person that keeps trying to infect my computer with a virus by telling me my system will crash if I don’t click on this mysterious link). The box score says the final was 10-7 when it was in fact 10-8. Perhaps by the time you read this they will have fixed it, but what’s amusing is the suggestion that closer Scott Downs didn’t give up any runs, when in fact he gave up 1 and should have allowed several more. The Rockies entered the 9th having made a healthy offensive effort, especially Tyler Colvin in the lead-off spot. He reached base 4 times in 5 tries and drove in 3 runs when he crushed a Santana slider. (Insult to injury: Friedrich was on base after taking a walk). The 1-4 hitters combined to drive in all 8 runs the Rockies scored, further proof that they must be producing in order for this team to put up competitive numbers.
Back to Downs and that ill-fated 9th. Downs is a sinkerballer if ever there was one, but lucky for us sinkerballs never seem to sink quite as much at Coors Field. Colvin led off with a double and Marco Scutaro singled him home. Then Carlos Gonzalez came to the plate and hit a line drive right back to Downs. Downs bobbled the ball a little and home plate umpire Greg Gibson had the brilliant idea to call no catch. Now of course, Scutaro is still standing on 1st where he belongs, because every good baserunner knows you don’t go when the ball is caught. If you do, you’ll get tagged out. But after Gibson called no catch, Downs did the smart thing and threw to 2nd, where Erick Aybar caught the ball (apparently that time it was caught) and threw to 1st. Double play. Talk about a momentum killer. To make matters worse, the next batter, Michael Cuddyer, singled, which would have allowed Scutaro to advance had he still been on 1st, and might have kept the rally going. I don’t like to spend a lot of time griping about umpires because it’s unproductive, and my job is to comment on what my team is doing, but that’s shameful, plain and simple. Don’t be such a creep, Greg Gibson.
Of course, Cargo should have run out the play, and if he had, he might have been safe at 1st. I am in agreement with that. But he can’t be blamed, because the call was blown, and if it had been made correctly, Cargo would have been out, and Scutaro would have been safe at 1st still. It’s easy to understand why Cargo wasn’t planning to run all the way to 1st when there was still a runner standing there.
Anyway. Umpires are bad people. And the Rockies just got swept by the Angels. Fortunately we all get a day off tomorrow.
The Rockies resume interleague play with a 3-game series against the A’s at Coors Field starting Tuesday.