Well kids, I’ve been off the grid just a bit the past week, but I was keeping up well enough to know that not much has changed in the wonderful world of Rockies pitching. Last night’s series opener against Pittsburgh was no different, though the order in which the pitching failures occurred was a little out of the ordinary. It resulted in perhaps my favorite designation of a pitcher’s performance: a blown save and a win. Yes, it happens. If you’re the Rockies, kind of a lot.
The starting pitching came courtesy of the increasingly awesome Jeff Francis, whose overall work since rejoining the team I couldn’t be happier with. Last night’s outing consisted of 5 innings in which he allowed 1 run on 6 hits, and surely he could have taken that quite a bit deeper had he not been on a pitch count. As it is, he hit his pitch limit as early as he did because he threw nearly as many balls as strikes. Yet, despite that, somehow he surrendered zero walks. He was behind in the count with nearly every batter, but he always threw a strike when he needed to. This is the kind of pitching that needs to happen. No more excuses, just making the pitch that needs to be made. And of course, it would help greatly if Wilin Rosario could occasionally catch the ball. You know, if he gets around to it.
The win for Francis was looking good as the bottom of the 5th resulted in 4 runs for the Rockies. Josh Rutledge led the charge with an RBI single, and how glad are we that he was called up? His .250 average is deceptive; the man is clutch, much like Jordan Pacheco was when he came up last September. That’s not to say he never leaves men on base, but he’s already got 3 RBI in 4 games. I like him.
Josh Roenicke preserved things by pitching a stellar 6th-8th innings. He only allowed 2 baserunners in that span. Roenicke has had a few rough outings of late, but he’s still an incredibly valuable piece of the bullpen, and he’s really stepped up in long relief. Previously he would pitch an inning or two every other day, but now he’s being called on for longer outings, and he’s risen to the occasion.
A 3-run lead ought to have been enough for Rafael Betancourt, right? And yet somehow it was not. Raffy came on in the 9th and put 2 runners on with 1 out. Then it was Rex Brothers‘s turn to try to record the save, and instead he threw a fastball right down the pipe and Pedro Alvarez cleared the bases. Tie game. Luckily, Brothers recovered, ending the inning without further damage, but that is exactly what we do not need from the closer of the future. Seeing as how he’s blown 5 out of 5 save opportunities this season, I hope the Rockies plan to keep Betancourt around a while longer so Brothers can acquire the poise that’s required of him.
Of course, Brothers still got the win, thanks to some walk-off heroics. Rosario led off the bottom of the 9th with a single and then Jason Giambi singled him to 3rd. Dexter Fowler managed to lift a fastball to center that gave Rosario enough time to tag up and score the winning run. I will say this about this season: as dismal as it’s been, I don’t see the offense giving up quite as completely as they always seemed to last season. The game always seems like it’s still within reach even if it’s not. So even if we do finish with the worst record in baseball, there’s always that.
The series continues today with Christian Friedrich hoping to continue recent success at home.