Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Until the fatal eighth inning today at about 1:00 Colorado time, this post was going to be fairly happy, with some asterisks but a generally positive outlook. The post was going to be titled: Colorado Rockies Jump On Top Early, Earn Season-Opening Series Split. After the disgusting eighth inning in which Matt Belisle, after getting two fairly quick outs, combusted, I needed to change the second part of that clause. The sunny outlook I was speaking of? Yeah, that’s nowhere to be found now.
In some ways, it seems unfair. Why should one inning change what happened in the rest of the game? The problem is that the rest of the game wasn’t pretty, either. It’s just that, over the course of a 162 game season, there are going to be some ugly wins. And, as I started writing this post in the top of the eighth, the Rockies were up 5-4, and I really thought they were going to hold on. Boy, was I wrong, and I think it’s time to really reevaluate the bullpen.
In a game that ended up taking upwards of a three hours, the first three innings were good, although even that period had its blemishes. Corey Dickerson led off the game like a true leadoff hitter, as he walked, stole second and went to third on an error, and scored on Michael Cuddyer‘s groundout. That was good. Then, Franklin Morales‘ rough first inning was seemingly more than offset by the Rockies’ three run third inning. Again, the top of the lineup made things happen. Dickerson singled, and was promptly brought home as Cuddyer, continuing his hot start to the season, hit one out of a spacious Marlins Park (with seemingly nobody in the stands) on the second pitch of his second at bat. That, at least, seemed to be a good omen for the now two-hole hitter. The Rockies were also able to manufacture another run out of that inning, with a walk and two singles.
It was all downhill from there. Morales gave up fewer runs than Jordan Lyles did yesterday, but was still clearly worse than the pitcher he had just beaten out for the #5 spot in the rotation, although that had been nullified by yet another injury, this one to Tyler Chatwood, which enabled both to make the rotation. Morales retired the side in order just once, and allowed three doubles amongst his eight hits in just five and a third innings. Then Tommy Kahnle came in, and we got to see the first Major League appearance of his career. I thought that, for the most part, Kahnle was a bright spot. He came in with a man on second and one out in the sixth, and needed just six pitches to strike out Reed Johnson and force Christian Yelich to ground out. Kahnle gave up a run in the seventh, but he also gave up just a single hit, the fatal triple by Casey McGahee, of all people. I thought that for the most part Kahnle’s stuff was working, because he forced three pop outs in the inning, and was unlucky to give up a run.
After the seventh, I was thinking: Okay, it hasn’t been a great game to watch, and Wilin Rosario had an injury scare, but we’re still up 5-4. We can go to Rex Brothers or Adam Ottavino in the eighth and LaTroy Hawkins now, and should be fine. Well, that’s not what happened. Instead, Walt Weiss decided to bring in Matt Belisle, who struggled throughout spring training and is generally considered to be on the downside of his career. Belisle is fine in the middle innings of a 8-2 game, but please, Walt, don’t put him on the mound in the eighth just because he is experienced. As you could have predicted, Belisle got lit up by the meat of the Marlins’ lineup. The inning started with a single, but Belisle then retired the next two batters. I started to breathe again. That was a mistake.
Belisle gave up a single to Yelich, scoring a run and tying the game. Then Yelich stole second (confirmed by a replay review) and Jeff Baker walked. First and second. Belisle was still on the mound, and Weiss wasn’t coming out to get him out of the game. Giancarlo Stanton singled in another run and advanced to second on the throw, making it second and third with two outs in a 6-5 Marlin lead. It would have been a great time to stop the bleeding. Belisle should have come out of the game. But he didn’t, and McGehee, a journeyman third baseman and the hero of the game, singled home both runs. 8-5, game essentially over. McGehee and Stanton, by the way, now have 15 combined RBI on the season, after just four games. The Rockies have 15 runs total. That, my friends, is how you lose a baseball game, and a four game series against a poor team, in the most infuriating way possible. And I’m never getting back those three hours. On the bright side, it was only one game, blah blah blah. I don’t want to talk about anything bright right now, because that game was pretty bad, even if the Rockies only lost by three runs. The Marlins, by the way, averaged more than twice as many runs in this four game series as they did last season.
Rosario, who was hit by Stanton’s broken bat in the fifth inning, stayed in the game after being looked at by a trainer and should be fine.
Carlos Gonzalez, who was pulled out of yesterday’s game because of dizziness, was back in the lineup, and made a tremendous, leaping, extra base hit-saving catch in the third inning.
The Rockies have no time to lick their wounds, as they host the Diamondbacks tomorrow at 1:10 in their home opener. Juan Nicasio, who looked good in spring training, will make his season debut. Pitching for Arizona is Randall Delgado, also making his debut. It should be a good opportunity to get back on track. The season is just four games old, so don’t panic.