Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The San Diego Padres defeated the Colorado Rockies 4-2 on Wednesday night in San Diego. The loss puts the Rockies at a 2-4 mark on their current west coast trip, not a number that inspires confidence as the team tries to prove that they can somehow play .500 baseball on the road.
Wednesday’s affair was a swing game; if the Rockies had won and pulled to a 3-3 mark on the trip, it would have taken a lot of pressure off today’s series finale with the Padres. Because the Rockies failed, again, to win a close game on the road, it might be easy to declare the doom and gloom of another team that cannot win away from Coors Field.
Over the course of the season that might prove to be the case with this team. But for now, I think Wednesday’s loss ought to be viewed on its own. And on its own, the story of this game was San Diego starting pitcher Andrew Cashner.
Following a complete game shutout of the mighty Detroit Tigers in his last start, Cashner went 7 1/3 innings against the Rockies. He allowed only one run on a solo shot from Justin Morneau, issued only one walk, and struck out five. He had thrown 98 pitches when Bud Black removed him from the game.
Cashner has always possessed the high ceiling that comes with a mid-90’s fastball. Now that he is consistently locating that pitch and using a sinker more often (54.64% of the time Wednesday night), he is working more efficiently and therefore deeper into games.
Some of his put-away pitches are just plain nasty, something the Rockies saw early in Wednesday’s game with this strike three to Troy Tulowitzki.
That’s 95 MPH, with movement, on the black. If you’re facing a guy who has that kind of stuff working for him, it’s going to be a long night.
This is not to say, however, that the Rockies did not have opportunities to score in this game.
So in that sense the loss stings, as the Rockies probably could have stolen a game. But I still believe that the story of this one, in the long run, will be that the Rockies were one of a number of teams exposed to the new, improved, and sometimes-dominant version of Andrew Cashner.