Pitching Falls Apart in Rockies’ Loss to Cubs
The Rockies headed to Mesa, Arizona for their first game this spring as the visiting team. It was also their first total wreck of a game. Surely it won’t be the last, but what did we learn today kids?
I’m still waiting for Josh Roenicke to be awful. It just doesn’t seem right that he’s so consistent. He wasn’t perfect last season, but he did hang on to a 0.00 ERA longer than I thought possible (11 games). And he was the only Rockies pitcher who exited the game with that ERA today. He pitched the 5th inning and allowed two runners on a walk and a hit, but he also got a double play grounder and a 4-pitch strikeout. In a game like this one, a performance like that looks brilliant.
Biggest turnaround of the spring so far goes to Tyler Colvin, who totally recovered from his 3-K Saturday today. He went 2-for-3 and both scored and drove in a run. He also played left field instead of designated hitter, so maybe the moral of the story is to give Colvin something to do in the field if he want him to produce at the plate.
Dexter Fowler gets a lot of extra-base hits, but they are typically line drives without a lot of height. He’s not someone you think of as likely to hit a home run. Then again, he’s also full of surprises, and today he led off the 5th inning with a long ball on a 2-2 count. It was his only hit of the game, but since he’s not going to do that very often, he’s on my good list for it.
The more I see of Jordan Pacheco, the more I like him. He doesn’t seem to have missed a beat between last September and now, and if he doesn’t make the opening day roster I think that’s an enormous mistake. His approach at the plate is well beyond his years, and he has terrific instincts for just what kind of offense is needed and how to make it happen. I like him best with men on base because of this, but today he came to the plate three times with nobody on. Two of those times he reached on a single, and it’s not his fault nobody was able to drive him in. The more Pacheco the better, I say.
Now let’s talk crap pitching, because there was plenty of that. We’ll start with Guillermo Moscoso, the pitcher of record in this game, who lasted two innings and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Yeesh. That’s really not what you want to see from a guy who came over this offseason in exchange for the beloved Seth Smith. Moscoso started out just fine, working a 9-pitch 1st inning that included a lead-off walk but ended with no damage. Somebody forgot to tell him that he was needed for more than one inning, though, and he left his stuff in the dugout when he returned to the mound in the 2nd. He gave up a solo shot to Alfonso Soriano. Then he got two quick outs (one of which was Ian Stewart), and then the wheels came off. Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo both swung and made contact on the first pitch they saw from Moscoso, and both reached base. Then Brett Jackson came to the plate and made contact on the second pitch he saw, sending it into the stands over Dexter Fowler’s head. After all that, would you throw strikes? Moscoso certainly didn’t. He walked David DeJesus on four pitches. Then he tried throwing a strike again and Marlon Byrd knocked it into left for a single. Lucky for Moscoso, Blake DeWitt‘s first pitch contact resulted in a popout, and the inning was over. I am not encouraged by this outing from Moscoso. He didn’t fool these hitters in the least, and that’s got to change.
Alex White took over for Moscoso in the 3rd and fared a little better. He allowed just 1 run in 2 innings, on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo. And he didn’t give up any home runs, which is the standard I am setting for him until further notice. Honestly, the fact that White even did that well is impressive considering the firestorm surrounding him right now. We’re not even a week into spring training and the pitchers are already causing drama. Great.
Zach Putnam had a disastrous 5th inning in which he allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk. One of those runs was scored by Stew, who took a 4-pitch walk. If memory serves me right, his strike zone these days is about nine feet wide and easily as high, so if he’s taking those pitches, they are way outside the zone. And job one for Putnam is fixing that particular problem.
And then there was Chad Bettis, who finished the game with the 7th and 8th innings. I’m excited about Bettis; I think he’s got a lot of power, and while he still doesn’t have the repertoire he’d need to be a starter, I like his potential as a reliever. But he’s going to have to do better than he did today. In keeping with the theme of giving a guy something to hit immediately, his first two pitches became a single and a triple off the bats of Jonathan Mota and Joe Mather. That said, we’ll call it a draw for Bettis today, because his pitch-to-contact actually worked in the 8th inning: 3 pitches, 2 flyouts and a groundout.
Is Ramon Hernandez at all to blame for these pitching failures? Maybe. He was calling the pitches that were so frequently right where the hitter wanted them. So far, though, I mostly like Hernandez’s game-calling skills, so I’m going to leave that be and focus on his atrocious offense today. He was the only guy to go 0-for-3. And his worst offense came in the 5th, when he swung on the first pitch he saw and grounded into a double play. There were 2 men on and no outs at that point, so it might have been nice to keep the rally going.
Another day, another try. Tomorrow we finally get to see whether Jeremy Guthrie can measure up to the pitching in the rest of the division, and he’s not exactly starting small: Tim Lincecum of the Giants is his opponent.