Yes, yesterday’s 13-10 game was in many ways a weird one. But it ended in a very familiar manner: a Rockies loss. But this loss merits more of a recap than most, because again, the score was 13-10. And it was an extremely entertaining game, so recap I will.
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The fact that Juan Nicasio gave up seven runs on seven hits in his first third of an inning is obviously very discouraging. Even more discouraging is the fact that Walt Weiss decided to keep him in the game even after he gave up that grand slam to Andrelton Simmons. The bullpen has been so poor and stretched recently that Weiss clearly just wanted to get as many innings as he could out of Nicasio no matter how many runs he gave up.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out very well either; after giving up two homers in the fourth, Weiss couldn’t watch any longer, and pulled the pitcher out after recording just 11 outs. Nicasio’s final line is three and two-thirds innings, 11 hits, 10 runs (all earned), and three homers allowed. That’s rough. After that seven run first, this game looked like a blowout. After all, the Rockies were down seven before picking up a bat and were facing a pretty good pitcher in Mike Minor. But the blowout wasn’t to be, and the offense came to life after scoring just a single run in each of the last two games.
The Rockies small-balled their way to five runs in three innings without a single extra base hit, cutting the lead to 8-5. Even after Nicasio coughed up two more runs, the Rockies clawed their way back, thanks to a Wilin Rosario homer and two more runs in the fifth.
Just as a comeback looked possible, if not likely, Chad Bettis came to the rescue for the Braves. Bettis, who should not and would not be in the big leagues if not for all the injuries the Rockies have suffered, gave up four consecutive hits and three runs. The score was 13-8 after the top of the sixth, and although the Rockies scored a run in the seventh and eighth innings, they never really threatened again. The bottom of the ninth was perhaps the worst, and although I could criticize the Rockies’ hitters, I’d rather just convey the fact that I’m in awe of Craig Kimbrel and you should be too. Kimbrel not only struck out the side with filthy stuff, but threw just 11 pitches, and all were strikes. Wow.
So Nicasio got crushed, Bettis proved again that he shouldn’t be pitching at this level, and Kimbrel absolutely embarrassed D.J. LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon, and Brandon Barnes. In the end, it was a high scoring loss, but it was still just another loss. That’s 11 losses in the last 12 games, which has been, to say the least, a dose of reality.
The team has been hurt by injuries (none, surprisingly, to Troy Tulowitzki), but even without the injuries this team probably wouldn’t be in competition for a playoff spot. As for positives from yesterday’s game, Tommy Kahnle, the only bright spot in the bullpen, was awesome again. Josh Rutledge continued to hit really well, as did Corey Dickerson, who looks like a star. Perhaps most impressive was Rosario’s homer, which was a long one. The Rockies need Rosario to contribute like he did last season, and this was a fine step in the right direction.
The Rockies will try to stop their skid again today with Tyler Matzek making his debut against tough righty Julio Teheran. Given Matzek’s control problems and Teheran’s sub-2 ERA, a win isn’t likely. Better just to pray for no more injuries.