I so, so wanted Jeff Francis to be awesome in his first start with the Rockies yesterday. I mean, really wanted. But I had a feeling that what was more likely was that he would choke, and then choke again, and then choke some more. And that all the Rockies’ bats together would not be enough to perform the Heimlich.
I try to give good news whenever there is some to give, and I would really like to have some good news about Jeff Francis. But this line speaks for itself: 3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Yeesh. He threw 74 pitches in those brief innings, and one of them sailed to the backstop and allowed a run to score. I guess we should be glad more of them didn’t do that. A small piece of good news is that Francis doesn’t seem to have lost much on velocity. He’s never been a power pitcher and he rarely tops 90 mph, but if he’s throwing his fastball in the high 80′s that’s a good sign. And he was. He also mixed his pitches well and was able to throw most of them for strikes. But he wasn’t fooling anybody, least of all the Angels’ hitters.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when Jim Tracy pulled Francis he put in Guillermo Moscoso, who I guess is the new Esmil Rogers now that Esmil Rogers is gone. Moscoso has been even worse than Rogers this season, and in 2 2/3 innings yesterday he allowed 2 more runs as well as a pair of inherited runs. Blech. As for other guys, Rex Brothers and Matt Reynolds each pitched a scoreless inning and Adam Ottavino managed to allow a run without allowing a hit (walk, stolen base, sacrifice fly, RBI groundout). But none of what those guys did really mattered because, as so often happens by the time we get to our specialists and set-up guys, the game had already been lost.
Offensively this game was eerily similar to the one in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago when the Rockies hit five solo home runs but couldn’t drive in a single man on base. That’s just what they did yesterday. Hitters of said homers were: Marco Scutaro, Tyler Colvin (2), Carlos Gonzalez, and Chris Nelson. Props to them for that, but how come every other time they were at the plate with runners on they couldn’t do anything? Scutaro especially, who came to the plate in the 4th with 2 outs and the bases loaded and struck out.
Also, something alarming was Dexter Fowler, who struck out 3 times and only reached base once. He has proven to be a key offensive piece in recent weeks, even more so than your average lead-off hitter. In a game when he hits well, the rest of the team follows suit. When he can’t make contact, it creates a chain reaction that involves a lot of stranded runners and unproductive outs. Hopefully this was just an off-day for him, but I’ve yet to see him bounce back from an off-day instead of letting it be the start of a long drawn-out slump. Please don’t slump, Dex. Please, please, do not slump.
The Rockies will try to salvage their dignity and avoid the sweep this afternoon, with Christian Friedrich on the mound.