Wilton Lopez Struggles Again, Diamondbacks End Rockies Winning Streak


So here’s the simplest baseball analysis you will read, hear, or receive in any other manner all day.

Over the course of a long baseball season, baseball happens. By looking at some elements of yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, this concise analysis starts to make sense.

With a runner on first in the 9th inning, the Rockies still clinging to a one-run lead, and Wilton Lopez filling in at closer, a high chopper went over third baseman Jonathan Herrera‘s head. It appeared that he had been positioned on the edge of the grass in anticipation of a sacrifice bunt. If the Diamondbacks do bunt, the Rockies look smarter for having him ready. If Herrera is not of such a diminutive stature, he might snare the hop and get at least one out. Instead, he was a shrimpy utility infielder in the wrong spot for that play and it turned into a double. That’s baseball.

McCarthy. Image: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Later in that same inning, Herrera fielded a ground ball as Didi Gregorius dashed home with the potential tying run. With the option to try and cut off the run at the plate, Herrera decided that his best bet was to throw to first for a sure out. If you gave Herrera 20 chances at that same play, he might throw it home ten. It was one of many snap decisions that come up over the course of a baseball game. That’s not to mention that a throw home hardly guarantees a lead-saving out. The winning run then advanced to third and scored on a sacrifice fly. That’s baseball.

Juan Nicasio labored for 4.1 innings, spraying his pitches all over the place. Perhaps he was effectively wild, as he actually took a no-hitter into the 5th inning. Still the command issues caught up with him, forcing manager Walt Weiss to remove him with 96 pitches in the 5th inning. In the meantime Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy mostly looked sharp for his 6 innings, locating his pitches well and with good cutting action. He issued no walks and created a lot of soft contact from Rockies hitters. Save for a Troy Tulowitzki home run, a massive Eric Young Jr. foul ball, and a handful of warning track outs along the way, not many hitters hit the ball hard. In short, he was much sharper than Nicasio, yet thanks to a series of bloop singles in the 3rd inning found himself on the hook until his team’s 9th inning rally. That’s baseball.

Finally, it felt like the Diamondbacks knew they could not afford to get swept in the bottom of the 9th inning. Starting with Gregorious’s lined single to start the inning, you sensed the urgency in each at-bat. Yes, there was also luck involved, but the D’Backs deserve credit for recognizing how bad they needed the game and going to get it. Those kinds of losses happen over the course of a season. Hat’s off to the other guys. That’s baseball.

The Colorado Rockies have been competitive and had a chance to win in every single game this season, save for the series finale blowout in San Francisco. So yes, yesterday’s loss stung, and it is probably time to quit relying on Wilton Lopez in high-leverage situations. But in the end, yesterday’s loss was just one of those ultra-competitive games that happen over the course of a long season, especially within the division. In the long run that’s OK, especially if the Rockies keep giving themselves chances to win. It probably sounds like I am trying to channel Yogi Berra or something, but I’m sticking with this line: baseball happens.

Note: The ‘Rockies Killers’ committee has officially taken note of Did Gregorius’s play this weekend and will observe him closely for the rest of the season. If he keeps it up, he might be bringing some speed and some much-needed grit to a roster that includes sluggers Freddie Freeman and Adrian Gonzalez. He would also make a nice double play combination with the team’s most recent addition, Marco Scutaro. Of course any recommendation for the official ‘Rockies Killers’ roster will be run by team captain Ted Lilly first.