When this whole 4-man rotation, 75-pitch, overtaxed bullpen pile of ridiculousness was first introduced a couple of days ago (was it really that recently? feels like it’s been going on forever), I remember thinking, who is going to reach his pitch limit the quickest and have to exit the game? Jeff Francis was the first name that came to mind. Not because I don’t like him, I’ve got mad love for Jeff Francis, as you should know if you’ve read anything I’ve written ever. But bringing him back to the Rockies felt like the least of all possible evils rather than an actual good move. And while his last start I will classify as “pretty good,” it was cancelled out by his first one, more like “pile of dog crap.”
Which brings me to tonight, when not only did Francis give up just ONE run in his entire outing, but said outing essentially enabled him to go the distance, at least the Rockies’ version of that, now that no starter is allowed to pitch past 7:00 Mountain Time or something. He pitched a full 5 innings, and as a reward he even got an extra pitch. The one run he gave up was on a home run by Jimmy Rollins on the fifth pitch Francis threw, and after that he contained every single baserunner. There were only 6 of those, by the way, and none of them reached by walking. This was like the old Jeff Francis, the pre-Tommy-John, postseason-Phillies-defeating Jeff Francis. I mean, wow. Wow.
After that, Francis’s bullpen mates did him a solid by covering the final 4 innings in grand style, with just 2 hits allowed among Josh Roenicke, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers, and Rafael Betancourt. How those men are still climbing rather than crawling the mound given how much they’re working is beyond me, but guys, way to go.
The only really unfortunate thing was that the Rockies didn’t manage to score until the 7th, when Francis was already out, so he didn’t get the win when he deserved it. That same thing happened the last time he pitched. I’m pretty sure he’s not used to the post-2010 Rockies, who tend only to put up runs on days when the starting pitcher is awful. When he’s good, they can never score at all, so he gets punished for pitching great. Francis had better prepare to endure that again, because it will happen.
The offense was just okay tonight, collecting 7 hits. The good news is that 2 of those hits were 2-run home runs, and when the other guys only score 1, that’s more than enough to win. Props to Chris Nelson and Wilin Rosario for hitting those homers, and, while we’re recognizing those two, for not making any errors.
I’m still never going to understand how this team gets swept by the A’s at home and then does not get swept by the Phillies on the road. Just does not make sense. But every game they win lessens the likelihood that we reach 100 losses this season, so I register only bafflement, not complaint.
The Rockies head to Arlington tomorrow to take on the Rangers; expect many a crooked number.