Blame the weather, blame the offense, blame the bullpen, or blame the manager. Whoever you believe is at fault for Thursday’s 5-3 Rockies loss to the Marlins, you can in no way blame Rockies starter Juan Nicasio. The 26-year-old right hander pitched like fans and front office personnel always hoped he would. In seven innings, Nicasio only gave up two hits and walked one while striking out nine Marlins. The game just rolled along.
During the seventh inning stretch, after Nicasio’s 98th pitch, the rain came in. The weather did two things. It removed Miami’s starting pitcher Nate Eovaldi, who also pitched shutout ball, striking out four Rockies. Eovaldi was even more economical than Nicasio, throwing only 78 pitches in his weather-shortened six inning outing. Unfortunately the catch 22 was Nicasio now had to be removed without question.
One would think that the hour and a half rain delay washed away the dreadful Rockies offense, but if you are a Rockies fan you know better. The first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Rockies was Adam Ottavino. He did get in some trouble but only gave up one run which scored on a wild pitch. After eight innings the Rockies were down 1-0, easily setting up some possible walk off heroics. Then came the ninth, and with it came Wilton Lopez. Lopez had absolutely nothing in his arm. In just one third of an inning Lopez gave up four runs on four hits, and in a statistical injustice was not issued the loss.
Miami put former Rockies pitcher Kevin Slowey on the mound with a 5-0 lead. Suddenly the Rockies lineup decided to play baseball. Jordan Pacheco singled to snap a 0-23 streak. He was followed by Michael (I will remind you he was an All-Star every chance I get) Cuddyer, who doubled and drove in Pacheco. 5-1 Marlins, and any fans napping on the couch woke up. Catcher Wilin Rosario singled to drive in Cuddy. In a stroke of luck Rosario advanced to second on a high throw that should have led to the first out of the inning. 5-2 Marlins; those same fans quit rubbing their eyes and sat up.
Perhaps realizing Slowey must have drank the same water as Wilton Lopez, the Marlins made a change and brought in closer Steve Cishek. After Charlie Blackmon made the first out in the inning, Nolan Arrenado once again played older than his experience and singled in Rosario with the help of a Marlin error. 5-3 Marlins, 1 out, tying run at the plate, camera pans back to those fans who are now on the edge of the seat waiting for Troy Tulowitzki, who is now on deck.
What Mile High Magic would Johnny Herrera bring to the plate? But of course!! A 6-4-3 game ending double play. All those fans were now watching coverage of Broncos training camp. In the words of former Denver Nugget Allen Iverson “we’re talking about practice?!?”
Thursday’s series finale was definitely frustrating enough to refer to three Denver sports teams all at once.
In the month of July the Rockies are averaging just less than three runs a game (that feels a little high, it probably includes Cuddy’s Home Run Derby performance). Against Miami Colorado scored just eight runs in four games. Miami is 24 games under .500, and are probably worse than last year’s 98 loss Rockies. The good side of the offense not living up to Rockies baseball is that the pitching is by far and away over-performing. Nicasio, for example, has only given up one run in 19 innings pitched in July.
If this kind of pitching doesn’t get scared away when some offense shows back up we might be in business. Maybe Pacheco (remember he broke an 0-23 streak in the ninth) will be the guy to spark it. One thing is for sure, it has to come from somebody new and not just the usual suspects.