Leave it to the Padres to get the Rockies out of one of the worst slumps in their history. San Diego is good for that. If you’re playing really bad baseball, just wait till they come to town, and you’ll probably look a little better, even if you aren’t.
The Rockies have been so bad lately that even the national media is starting to notice and they’re starting to talk about things that can’t be blamed on altitude. (Although, if you ask Dick Monfort, just about everything can be blamed on altitude.) Colorado’s brand of baseball in the past month hardly passes for baseball.
They’ve been losing so much that this morning, when a guy at Dunkin Donuts saw my Rockies shirt and asked me if they won yesterday, I said “no” without even thinking about it. Then I did think about it and I realized that, in fact, yesterday’s game was a win, but I’m just so accustomed to losing right now my mind went there before I could stop it.
Enter San Diego. Thanks to them being a really bad team, Franklin Morales (WHY IS FRANKLIN MORALES A STARTING PITCHER AGAIN?!?!?!) only allowed one run, and the bullpen didn’t allow any. Then today, Jair Jurrjens was able to hold his own against them as well, allowing 3 runs. Of course, he also lasted just 4 2/3 innings, which was not an improvement over his previous start, and he threw 96 pitches, only 58 for strikes.
If Jurrjens doesn’t start finding the strike zone more often, he’s not a viable option for this team. Since Monfort (see above link) believes there is some magic starting pitcher out there that will solve all our problems, I have to assume that he at least hoped Jurrjens might be that guy. He’s not that guy.
It’s hard to say whether Jurrjens trusts his defense enough to throw strikes, but this much is clear: they are not to blame for those runs scoring today. The first one scored thanks to Jake Goebbert‘s first ever major league home run, on a fastball right at his waist. The second was a homer by Seth Smith on a changeup at the exact same spot. And the third came home when Jurrjens threw a wild pitch. There really should have been about five more runs on top of those.
With 2 outs in the top of the 4th, Jurrjens made a high throw on a groundball that pulled Kyle Parker off 1st base. If Eric Stults‘s line drive hadn’t been right to Troy Tulowitzki to end the inning, one run would have scored, and the inning might have gone on much longer. In the 5th, with 2 on, Yasmani Grandal hit a high fly ball to the right field corner. It was initially ruled foul, and that call was only upheld after a review because there was no conclusive evidence to the contrary–you couldn’t even see the ball on the replay. That’s just plain lucky.
All of this is to say that Jurrjens’s performance was nothing special. Good fortune + mostly mediocre pitching resulted in a no-decision for him, though he probably deserved a loss. It’s no shock that he’s already been sent down to Triple A, and it’s a good thing we have guys coming off the DL soon so he can stay there.
From the offensive side of things, the Rockies hit a lot of home runs, five to be exact, and two of them were off the ordinarily unhittable Joaquin Benoit. His ERA rose from 1.23 to 1.91 thanks to today’s game. So I blame that on luck as well. If he’d had his stuff, it’s safe to say neither Drew Stubbs nor Tulo would have been able to take him out of the yard. The team only had three hits that weren’t homers, and none of them came with runners in scoring position. It’s still a win, but that’s not a sustainable way to play baseball.
I wish the Rockies were playing better, and I wish I thought Dick Monfort had any answers at all for how to fix this mess. Today didn’t reflect positive progress on either of those things, but it still goes in the win column, so let’s take that and be thankful.