There was a point in time when seeing your team fall victim to the home run swing of Philadelphia Phillies’ first baseman Ryan Howard wouldn’t have been the worst thing. The guy is a former Rookie of the Year and MVP, after all.
Unfortunately that time has long since passed. Howard is more of a punchline these days, a platoon player with a lucrative salary and a lifetime contract to do Subway commercials. For Boone Logan and the Colorado Rockies, that only makes it sting that much more that Howard blasted a three-run, walk off home run to complete the comeback for the Phillies in the 9th inning on Wednesday.
Howard is batting .222/.290/.407 against left-handed pitching this season after his moment of triumph. In the at-bat prior, of course, left-handed batter Chase Utley drove in the tying run. It was a bad night for Logan, but really it was just a bad night for the bullpen in general. If LaTroy Hawkins had been given the opportunity to close out the game he would have been just as likely to give Utley and Howard pitches to handle, at least if the first two outs of the inning were any indication.
The Rockies have questions; the closer’s role is near the top of the list. Unfortunately that played itself out in a tough-to-swallow loss on the road in Philadelphia. And we just won’t even get into all the runners that the Rockies left on base. I lost count and I don’t want to talk about it.
The Starting Pitcher
Jordan Lyles did well on a night that he was clearly fighting himself a little bit. His command was a bit off and his pitchers weren’t as sharp. He minimized the damage, allowing only two runs. Unfortunately a climbing pitch count forced Walt Weiss to pull Lyles after the fifth inning.
In the opinion of this writer, Weiss got everything right on Wednesday. He stuck to his guns on a scheduled day off for Troy Tulowitzki even though it meant a lineup without the star shortstop or the banged up Carlos Gonzalez. He then identified an opportunity to seize the game when he pinch hit with CarGo and Tulo with the bases full in the 7th inning. I loved this plan, even if CarGo crumbled it up into a ball by grounding into a double play and Tulo set it on fire by striking out.
I also agreed with the decision to go with Logan in the 9th. LaTroy’s time is short as the closer; he might have enjoyed success so far if you’re counting saves, but the Rockies cannot afford to run with him when he is leaving his pitches up the way he has been lately. And don’t forget that LaTroy has been living dangerously since Opening Day.
Hawkins will still be useful, but in the long run it shouldn’t be as the closer. I liked it that Walt was proactive in recognizing as much on Wednesday, even if the move blew up in his face. I hope that is a sign that Weiss will continue to be proactive with the situation with Hawkins. I would rather see the Rockies pull LaTroy from that role a bit too soon than leave him there too long.
A deceptively tough series at the Cleveland Indians to wrap up this road trip. The Rockies face Corey Kluber to open the action on Friday. At the present moment, that means they are set to face one of the best pitchers in baseball. Not exactly an ideal situation for a team that’s already struggling to score runs.
Tags: Colorado Rockies