On the same day the Colorado Rockies announced that the four man piggyback paired pitching experiment thing would end after this season and the team would return to a five-man rotation for 2013, Jim Tracy’s managing showed the flaws in the experiment. Tyler Chatwood struggled and threw a lot of pitches early, an issue that has stymied the plan because of the Rockies insistence on a 75 pitch count. That was always the decision that made this a failed attempt at “paired pitching,” and last night it showed because Chatwood was not paired with anybody. The rest of the pitchers Tracy inserted, 5 of them in total, worked anywhere from 0.2 innings to 1.2 innings. That is not a recipe for success. Unless…
…your first five hitters of the game reach base and you score 5 runs in the 1st inning. The Rockies were able to accomplish as much to protect Chatwood from what would have otherwise been a real disaster. Wilin Rosario (who is still on a short leash) and Jordan Pacheco both delivered 2-run doubles in that first inning, and Carlos Gonzalez distributed 4 hits over the course of the game.
Although the pitching plan for a 9 inning game was less than ideal, the Rockies bullpen did an astoundingly good job. After Chatwood surrendered 4 in the opening frame, the staff put up donuts for the rest of the game, ultimately making that 1st inning lead stand up.
All 4 of those runs came on a grand slam off the bat of Yonder Alonso, who symbolizes the way in which the Padres are emerging as a threat to contending teams down the stretch of this season. It used to be that if you scored against the Padres, even 1 or 2 runs, you felt you had a good chance to win because nobody in their lineup truly worried you. Hitters like Alonso, Carlos Quentin, and the now-polished Chase Headley have changed that, and teams have to get serious about not letting the Padres out-hit them. It never felt that way before, even in the days of Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Giles.
The Rockies hope to take a second game from the red-hot Padres tonight with Drew Pomeranz on the mound. Perhaps he will show a certain measure of rejuvenation now that he knows he can pitch in a normal 5-man situation next season.