Belisle turned in a strong, if brief, start, but it wasn't enough to hold back Cueto and the Reds. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Rockies 2, Reds 3: Not Even the Return of Paired Pitching Can Save Us

It felt a little bit like 2012 last night at Coors Field: Troy Tulowitzki was nowhere to be seen, having been frittered off to some secret lab somewhere that will hopefully destroy the aliens living in his legs; Todd Helton paraphernalia was everywhere; and six Rockies pitchers combined to pitch no more than 3 innings each. Also, the Rockies are playing really atrocious baseball and there’s talk of 100 losses and maybe someone finally being held responsible for that.

Luckily, the pitching situation was a temporary fix that came about as a result of Franklin Morales‘s paternity leave. It also reveals the Rockies’ lack of depth, as they really have no one left in the farm system who is ready to be called up. But at least we can be (mostly) sure that it was a one-time thing. Juan Nicasio might have been available to take a regular start, but he pitched 2 innings on Wednesday out of the bullpen and therefore wasn’t fully rested.

So the call went to Matt Belisle, who hasn’t started a game since 2008. But he used to start a lot, and he actually pitched close to 200 innings several times in his career. He probably feels like he’s pitched at least that many in each of his years with the Rockies, but it’s always been less than 100. Anyway, because Belisle is a reliever now, he was on a tight pitch count, and he departed after 3 innings having surrendered just 1 run. It was a decent outing that put the Rockies in a good position.

His bullpen brethren were no worse, combining to give up only 2 more runs over the course of the final 6 innings. Of course, Cincinnati’s lineup was exceedingly weak, with no one hitting over .300. Manager Bryan Price chose to sit both Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier, and Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are on the DL.

Price probably felt that he could do that, because his not-so-secret weapon was on the hill: the filthy Johnny Cueto, who will surpass 200 innings in just two more starts and strikes out a batter per inning. He earned his league-leading 15th win last night.

Cueto initially looked at least hittable, as Nolan Arenado managed to drive a fastball just over the left field wall. But Arenado was the only one who could consistently figure Cueto out. Besides the home run, he also hit a single and two very loud outs to the warning track. Other than that, only Charlie Blackmon managed more than one hit, and his first one walked a fine line between hit and error.

So you expect to lose a game like this one. Of course, it’s the Rockies, so they still have to do it in the most heartbreaking fashion possible. After Adam Ottavino gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th, the Rockies had 3 outs to manage a run off the even-filthier-than-Cueto Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman has 26 saves and a 1.88 ERA. He also regularly touches 100 mph. The Rockies have never had a closer like that. Chapman threw three pitches to Wilin Rosario, the third of which broke his bat and looked like it would drop for a base hit in short center, but Billy Hamilton made an incredible diving catch to rob Rosario. Then Chapman issued a rare walk to Charlie Culberson, who took a perfectly respectable lead off 1st base. He could not have known that Brayan Pena was going to spear Michael McKenry‘s line drive just inches off the bag, and double off Culberson to end the game.

Oh well. At least the Todd Helton bobblehead was pretty cool. They parted his hair on the wrong side and his batting helmet is turned instead of out, but anything is better than that ghastly bobblegnome they’re handing out on Sunday.

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Tags: Colorado Rockies

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