It used to be an exciting thing when the Rockies would have a big 1st inning, especially against a pitcher like Johnny Cueto, who has been tearing the National League a new one so far this season. It used to mean this game was going to be good, and maybe even a laugher. But now we have this pitching staff of ours, that can’t seem to keep any lead safe, and I don’t even feel good when we’re up 10 runs. Starting off the game 3-0 hardly feels like an exciting thing.
That is what happened, though, when the Rox plated 2 runs before even making an out in the 1st, and it seemed like maybe Cueto didn’t have his stuff on him this particular day. He even made a bad throw on a pickoff attempt that allowed the 2 runners on to advance, making it easy for both to score when Carlos Gonzalez came to the plate and hit a single. Then Michael Cuddyer doubled and Todd Helton hit a sacrifice fly to score Cargo. Piece of cake. Of course, then Wilin Rosario hit a dribbler and Cuddy thought it might be a good idea to go from 2nd to 3rd on that. Nightly baserunning error, check. Bad omen for the outcome of this game, check. No more runs scored in that inning.
And of course, Christian Friedrich cut the lead to one when he gave up two solo home runs in the 2nd. So you knew this game was far from over. Drew Stubbs tied it in the 3rd with ANOTHER solo shot, so that’s three home runs in this outing for Friedrich. The Stubbs homer was on a changeup that didn’t change. Friedrich still can’t consistently command any of his pitches. I like his potential, but I’m kind of tired of it just being potential instead of actual. I am, however, happy that each of those long balls only scored one. For a guy with as many walks and wild pitches under his belt as Friedrich has, it’s a wonder there weren’t two guys in scoring position every time somebody took him deep.
The Rockies went up again in the 3rd thanks to another lousy pickoff throw by Cueto. He’s not known for his pickoff move, but I’m willing to bet he hasn’t had many games with two throws like that. Obviously we were getting to him, and I wish we’d taken advantage of that even more. But alas, Cueto only surrendered 5 runs total in this outing, and even though that’s still quite a few, Friedrich was busy giving up more than that.
Friedrich really struggled in the 5th, in which the Reds hit a single, took a walk, hit a sac bunt, and then hit 2 RBI singles. Jim Tracy chose that moment to pull Friedrich, despite the fact that he was only at 55 pitches. That’s another reason I hate this pitch-count thing, though. It means that the manager is constantly evaluating his pitcher on two different levels: pitches thrown, and ability to either keep things going or turn things around. I realize this is sometimes necessary, like in a pitcher’s debut or first start after rehab. But to constantly be doing it is not good, especially for a manager like Tracy, whose in-game skills are highly suspect. Obviously, given the 55 pitches, this removal was made because Tracy didn’t believe Friedrich could get out of his jam. And maybe he couldn’t have. But no doubt it was in the back of his mind that even if he did, he wouldn’t be coming back for the 6th.
Of course, Josh Roenicke did Friedrich no favors, letting both inherited runners score on a Brandon Phillips double the minute he climbed the mound. That’s got to feel good. Roenicke also gave up a solo homer to Scott Rolen. (Scott Rolen! That guy is still hitting home runs??) By then the game was very much out of the Rockies’ reach.
However, they did stage a mini rally in the 8th and get to within a run again. Cargo walked and Cuddy pulled a moon shot to left off Jose Arredondo. Perhaps there was still a chance … ?
Spoiler alert: there was, but the Rockies squandered it, naturally. Matt Belisle gave up another home run to Ryan Ludwick (which brought the Reds’ total to 5 in the game), and then Andrew Brown, given the opportunity to hit a walk-off home run, struck out swinging with 2 men in scoring position in the bottom of the 9th. To be fair, it was Aroldis Chapman pitching, and that man is a flamethrower, but failure to execute is failure to execute.
I hate it when we score enough runs in a game to have won the previous game. It’s proof that this team’s problems go deeper than pitching or hitting. They have zero mojo. Pitchers don’t pick up hitters and hitters don’t pick up pitchers. Pathetic.