We probably should have known that the whole “Christian Friedrich is good at home now!” thing wasn’t going to last. He still doesn’t quite have the command that I’d like to see. His ball-strike ratio isn’t bad, but he’s still walking guys at the wrong time, and unable to put away other batters so they don’t drive those runners in. And he’s wild pitching like that’s what we’re paying him to do.
Friedrich started out just fine last night, allowing just 3 hits through his first 4 innings, and only one run on an Andrew McCutchen solo shot. It was in the 5th that things fell apart, beginning with back-to-back walks to start the inning. That is never good. A sacrifice bunt, RBI groundout, RBI single, single, run-scoring wild pitch, and RBI single later, the Bucs had tacked on 4 more runs. The most frustrating thing about outings like this is that they reflect a reality that goes well beyond the current limits on the rotation. By that I mean, often we’ve had to pull a starting pitcher earlier than necessary simply because he’d thrown too many pitches and we had to preserve him for his next start in four days. When that happens, you just have to be annoyed with the situation and move on. But then you’ve got last night with Friedrich, where he went 83 pitches but needed to be yanked in the 5th regardless of when his next start is because he wasn’t performing. When the starting pitcher comes apart in the 4th or 5th inning, as so often happens with the Rockies, all this talk of pitch counts and 4-man vs. 5-man rotations is really irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how many pitches someone is allowed until he shows that he is capable of going deep into a game.
The bullpen mostly held things together after Friedrich’s exit. Matt Reynolds finished off the 5th and Adam Ottavino took care of the 6th and 7th. Mike Ekstrom had a bit of a tougher time in the 8th, giving up a single and an RBI double, but by then it was too late for the pitchers to make much difference anyway.
In the meantime, the offense was busy missing every single opportunity that came their way. It’s never okay to go for 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. That’s inexcusable. The first run that scored occurred when Marco Scutaro was on 3rd and Michael Cuddyer hit what should have been a flyout to Alex Presley in left. Presley couldn’t make the play and Scutaro was able to score. Then, with Wilin Rosario on 1st, Josh Rutledge hit a triple. And that’s all the offense was able to come up with last night. They loaded the bases with 2 out in the 1st and didn’t score. With Rutledge on 3rd in the 4th and no out, nobody could drive him in. They loaded the bases with 2 out again in the 7th and didn’t score. And then again in the 9th. When you put pressure on the opponent like that, you have to deliver. No wonder we can’t seem to scare anybody.
And I’d love to be excited about Rutledge right now, but we very recently had a guy come up who went on a tear and seemed to drive in all the runs every night. That guy, Tyler Colvin, struck out swinging to end the game yesterday.
The series concludes this afternoon with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill.