I got to see Tyler Matzek in person for the first time today, and I really wasn’t impressed. Since his debut in early June, he hasn’t displayed much of the stuff he seemed to have then. He’s throwing too many balls, leading to high pitch counts, though he managed to walk only 1 today. On the season, he’s walking nearly 3 batters per 9 innings, compared to fewer than 6 K’s per 9. He also made a rookie mistake in the 1st inning that cost him. With nobody out and Brian Dozier on 2nd, Eduardo Escobar hit a groundball back to the mound. Matzek seemed to think that catching Dozier in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd was a better idea than getting the easy out at 1st. Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t ready for Matzek’s throw and dropped it; instead of a runner in scoring position with 1 out, the Rockies found themselves with runners at the corners and no out. Both those runners scored when the next batter doubled. A mental error like that won’t happen often, and it will happen less as Matzek becomes a more seasoned big leaguer. But it hurt the team today.
Despite Matzek’s troubles, I do think he’s a better pitcher than his numbers suggest. He had some bad luck today as well, starting with that lead-off Dozier double. It hit Matzek’s leg on its way to Nolan Arenado. If it hadn’t hit Matzek, it would have been a single at best; if he’d been able to get to it, it might have even been an out. Matzek also managed his traffic well. For all the runners he allowed, only 4 crossed the plate. That’s too many for the 6 innings he pitched, but it’s not atrocious. He kept the team in the game and gave them a chance to win.
However, the offense could not figure out Kevin Correia for anything. He’s not a great pitcher. Rather, he’s the prototypical innings-eater, a guy who will start 30 games in a season and maybe win 10, a guy who will let 5 runs score in an average outing. In this outing, he let 1 run score, and this despite giving up 7 hits and only striking out 1. But the hitters who did reach mostly reached on singles, and few of them were able to advance. Correia has the grit of a veteran who can bear down and get outs when he needs them. The Rockies could do nothing with that. They handled the few chances they had poorly. In the 3rd, Charlie Blackmon was on 2nd with 2 outs. Justin Morneau singled to Dozier, who fired a cannon at home plate. Blackmon had no business trying to score on that, but Stu Cole sent him anyway, and it was an easy out. Tulo grounded into an inning-ending double play in the 5th. Our most reliable pinch-hitter, Brandon Barnes, flied out to end the 8th with 2 runners on.
I will give the Rockies this, though: They played the whole game. They tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the 9th, an inning in which other iterations of the team have seemed lost and defeated. Josh Rutledge, Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez led off the inning with back-to-back-to-back hits. Tulo grounded out to score Blackmon. Of course, Cargo ran into an out on the basepaths when he decided to try to take 3rd on a wild pitch; this left Justin Morneau at the plate with 2 outs and the bases empty. But it was a lack of smarts, not steel, that ended the game.
As bad as this week has been with Dick Monfort’s tirades, I will take a 9th-inning rally and an okay outing for the starting pitcher. It’s the little things.