Tonight’s Rockies game was one of the most frustrating games of baseball by a Colorado organization in recent memory, Denver Zephyrs not included.
Jeff Francis (1-2) started for Colorado, trying to regain the form he showed at Salt River Fields last month. Opposite Francis was Wade Miley (2-0), last year’s second place man in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. For those of you who don’t remember that was the fourth closest margin in NL voting history. What’s more impressive is the fact that the player who edged out Miley for the award was baseball phenom Bryce Harper.
The frustration began right away Saturday night. Leading off the game Dexter Fowler and Jordan Pacheco walked on 9 total pitches. Carlos Gonzalez would ground into the first double play of the game, which would become a trend. After walking two more batters Miley would strike out Wilin Rosario. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s four walks in one inning without giving up a run, a Diamondbacks record. In the bottom of the first Arizona would score twice with Francis giving up both a solo shot and an RBI triple. Fortunately for Francis his first inning would not set the tone for the game; the score would remain 2-0 until the top of the sixth.
Miley tried as hard as he could to let the Rockies back in it. He only made it through 4 1/3 because of his high pitch count, 40 pitches in that first inning alone. He would give up four hits and walk seven. He was able to induce two big double plays and then loaded the bases a second time in the fifth just so Brad Ziegler could induce one of his own. Coming into this game Miley had walked just three Rockies in eighty one plate appearances.
As for Francis, he would finish the game giving up only four hits (three were in his rocky first inning), one walk, and just those two runs. When it comes to the basics of success in a Rockies uniform Francis made it happen. He threw a first pitch strike to fifteen of the nineteen batters he faced and had ten ground ball outs compared to only three fly ball outs. That’s the kind of performance that he will need to bring to Coors Field.
Offense on the Rockies’ end was sparse even after Miley was taken out of the game. In the top of the sixth Rosario would hit his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot. Then in the top of the seventh Dex would lead off with a hustling double that caught outfielder Gerardo Parra by surprise. Parra appeared to discount Fowler’s ability to think he’s faster than everybody and everything. When Fowler saw Parra jog instead of run he turned on the jets and forced an offline throw; it would pay off when Troy Tulowitzki drove him in two batters latter, trying the game 2-2.
So sure, at this point in the game we are frustrated with the lack of clutch hitting, hitting into three double plays by the time the game was official. All that was nothing compared to the top of the eighth inning. It started in a way that made it look like the Rockies would pull the game out. Back to back singles to lead off by Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario, respectively. With Josh Rutledge at the plate Cuddyer was “picked off,” for lack of a better term, when D-backs catcher Miguel Montero blocked a ball in the dirt and Cuddyer slipped on his way to third. Put it in the books as a 2-6 putout. Luckily Rosario had the awareness to advance to second during the miscue. Then when Rutledge hit a line drive to short the “Baby Bull” was doubled up at second to end the inning. Yes another double play and no matter how nontraditional, it had the same effects.
The game would go into extra innings where Cody Ross (.273 career against Colorado, .262 overall) would hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field, not even giving Dex a chance for a play at the plate. Which is good because had he botched the throw, we all would have forgotten his three walks, double, and diving grab in the outfield.
What to take away: The Rockies still only gave up three runs in ten innings. The bullpen didn’t give up a run from the sixth to the ninth innings. That is great pitching by Colorado standards. The offense and defense just need to start showing up on the same days.