So the Rockies have scored 13 runs over the course of the past two games, and they lost both of them. I will freely admit that there have been missed offensive opportunities (2 RISP and no outs on Tuesday night; runners on the corners and 1 out last night), but when you score that many runs, you really cannot blame the hitters. It’s time to face facts: our pitching is literally the worst in the history of the universe.
Starter Josh Outman did about what I expect at this point, which is give up at least an earned run per inning pitched. He lasted 5 innings last night, so that’s 5 runs. He actually had some very nice innings, and I never got the sense that things were unraveling as completely as they did when Jeremy Guthrie was pitching on Tuesday, but he slipped up just enough times to make it tough on everyone else. To add insult to injury, 4 of those 5 runs came on homers by Brandon Moss (who has hit 4 long balls on the season, 3 of which have come in two games at Coors Field) and Seth Smith (ouch).
However, the offense was keeping pace this time, so it seemed as though Outman might actually be off the hook for his crummy pitching. He even helped his own cause: in the 1st inning, after a Todd Helton grand slam that I can die happy having seen, Outman followed a 2-out intentional walk with a single. Yoenis Cespedes was so not expecting it (“We walked the guy before the pitcher, right? So the pitcher’s gonna strike out now, right?”) that he was playing too deep and then flubbed the throw to the plate. It was a great inning, and the Rockies were up 5-2.
They held their lead, though the A’s chipped away at it, until the 9th inning. All told, I was very comfortable with the performance the offense put up. Aside from Helton’s granny, there were Michael Cuddyer’s 2 home runs and Marco Scutaro’s 4 hits. It was not a game the Rockies should have lost. But then along came Rafael Betancourt with 3 outs to get and a 1-run lead.
In Raffy’s defense, he’s only pitching about once every 3 days at the moment, because save opportunities are running few and far between. And his last save opp was June 3rd. He’s a good closer but he’s seriously out of practice thanks to how rarely this team gets to the 9th inning ahead by 3 or fewer. That said, it was still a lousy outing for him. I knew we were in trouble when he couldn’t get the lead-off man, Coco Crisp. Crisp moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, stole 3rd, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. (Note to Rockies: that is how you get a man from 1st to home. See? It is not that hard.) Blown save and tie game. It would have been nice if Betancourt could have ended it there, especially because I am very confident the rest of the bullpen could have kept the A’s from scoring long enough for the Rockies to walk it off, but he did not. Instead, he gave up a double to Smith, walked Josh Reddick (intentionally – argh), and gave up a 2-run double to Brandon Inge. I don’t have to tell you how this story ends.
Again, I don’t really place the blame on Betancourt for this one, though technically the loss is his. This team needs to get him some more save opportunities. And the starters need to not give up so many runs that the offense has to go crazy just to keep up. Guys, our rotation sucks. There’s no way around that anymore.
To end on a positive note, I will say that I saw some very good defense last night. Jordan Pacheco has really grown at third base, and to anyone who has ever seen him play, it’s obvious that that’s all hard work, no raw talent. It’s impressive that he’s taken it upon himself to improve so much there, and it’s going to pay off as he continues to get starts at the hot corner. Chris Nelson has also improved at second base, typically a weak position for him. He did bobble a grounder last night that might have been a double play otherwise, but he also made a couple of very impressive stops. I just think that, given the young and inexperienced nature of our team, it’s nice to see fundmentals improving now and then.
The Rockies will try to avoid yet another interleague sweep this afternoon as their series with the A’s wraps up at Coors Field.