The Tampa Bay Rays entered Coors Field touting one of the best and most decorated pitching staffs in all of baseball for the young 2013 season. The Colorado Rockies took pride in giving them a rude welcome and introducing them to Coors Field and the lineup known as the Blake Street Bullies. They scored as many runs Friday off of Matt Moore as he had surrendered all season. They throttled David Price to the tune of 9 runs Saturday night. Sunday they took starting pitcher Alex Cobb deep three times; entering the game he had given up only two home runs all season. Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, and Nolan Arenado all hit solo shots.
There’s just one problem: they lost the series.
On Sunday the Rays won in convincing fashion by a final score of 8-3. Jhoulys Chacin returned from the disabled list and struggled in the early going. Still his ability to rebound was impressive as he delivered a 7 inning performance. He gave up 6 runs, 5 of them earned. If not for Josh Rutledge‘s failure to snag a line drive and convert a double play to end the 6th inning, Chacin would have worked in a coolly efficient manner from the 1st inning on.
Speaking of defense, it let the Rockies down in this game. Rutledge officially had one error that probably should not have been an error and then one error that was not ruled an error. Wilin Rosario‘s issues blocking the ball reared their ugly head as wild pitches and passed balls created openings for the Rays to pile on, particularly in that ugly 3-run 6th inning. Hopefully Rosario will benefit from two days off since Yorvit Torrealba will catch Tuesday night’s game with Jorge De La Rosa on the mound. As for Rutledge, the Rockies need him to eventually be an upgrade over previous options at second base. With Arenado now up for good the left side of the infield is outstanding; if the right side can come close to that level it will be a huge benefit to the Rockies and their shaky pitching staff over the long haul.
It is hard to measure how much familiarity matters to Major League hitters, but the results from former NL West players on Sunday were impossible to ignore. Former Diamondbacks Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts had 2 hits and 2 RBI a piece. Former Dodger James Loney went 3-for-4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI, raising his average on the season to .398, because OF COURSE HE DID.
Credit the Rays for capitalizing on their opportunities and finding a way to overcome some surprisingly shaky pitching from their starters. The Rockies will look to get this homestand back on track with the New York Yankees coming to town Tuesday night.