With the hopes of building on their recent winning ways, the youth-movement-led Rockies went on the road this week hoping to win some tough games and prove that their recent success is no tease. Having now dropped 3 straight on this trip after a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, they are now just hoping to salvage some games this weekend to avoid another total disappointment.
Jeff Francis, the man they call the “paired pitcher who does not always have to paired pitch,” went a brilliant 5.2 innings, allowing 0 ER and striking out 7 hitters. He did it with 86 pitches, something that the Rockies seem to find an acceptable option if the starter is doing really well. Essentially, this latest disconnect in logic is the result of this thinking:
“We are completely, totally, 100 percent ALL-IN on paired pitching. 75 pitches and a 4 man rotation no matter what. Nothing will change that pitch count, because we are protecting our pitchers because they have to pitch at altitude, which is akin to playing defense in basketball with trampolines around the basket. We are going to show why this unquestioned, unwavering commitment to innovation in our impossible situation can work…
…Unless the guy is pitching great, of course. I mean why should we take him out if he’s in the zone? For consistency’s sake and to show a true commitment to the system? No way! We’re leaving him in!”
Cliff Lee taunted Rockies fans in a fashion similar to Mike Minor and Tim Hudson in the Braves series by pitching well in a start that was, you know, normal. He went 6.1 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 7. Nate Schierholtz, a familiar foe from his days as a San Francisco Giant, knocked the deciding hit in the bottom of the 9th inning, scoring Jimmy Rollins for the walkoff victory.
If nothing else, I want the Rockies to win this weekend so that national analysts can get a reality check on their “the Phillies are back!” narrative. From ESPN to the MLB Network, I’ve heard enough “The Phillies are only 7 games back! Anything can happen!” comments to find these games that much more important.