The Rockies started the season sweetly, tying their franchise-high of 17 wins in the month of April. But as of late, those seemingly sweet smelling flowers that bloomed in April have turned sour in early May.
Colorado had been on the losing end of three out of the last four games entering Wednesday night’s contest, and they lost to not necessarily to the highest quality of opponents in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.
In those four games, the Rockies’ record dropped to 17-10 and they lost 16-11 in overall runs, and other numbers show why Colorado is struggling to win.
In those three losses, Colorado’s batting average was a measly .237, they struck out 6.3 times per game. The Rockies just aren’t seeing the ball, they’re not coming through in the clutch and the pitching has slipped a bit at times as well.
In the most recent loss, Tuesday night, Jim Tracy made a coaching error or two, and Todd Helton made a base running error.
Tracy put in Jason Giambi, who has been huge (literally and figuratively) in pinch hitting situations in the past, while taking out Jonathan Herrera, one of the hottest hitters on the Rockies. Herrera went 2-4 on the night to that point, in the ninth inning, and Giambi quickly struck out after not seeing a pitch in over a week.
And Helton charged home early from third on a play, only to be gunned down at home for the second out of the seventh inning. While it wasn’t certain that he would score, it was a bonehead move for the veteran player.
In the end, Felipe Paulino gave up the winning run, a home run in the top of the ninth inning to Justin Upton to lose the game 3-4.
In the loss Sunday, 8-4 to the Pirates (12-14), the Rockies’ ace was a joker. Ubaldo Jimenez, still was rusty after being put on the DL early in the year with an injured cuticle, gave up four runs and was pulled after four innings of work.
And the Rockies ended up storming back that game, but Esmil Rogers, just moved to the bullpen recently, gave up four runs in the fifth inning.
In the shutout loss last Friday to Pittsburgh, which resulted in only the third series loss of the season, it was pretty simple, the Rockies couldn’t hit the ball to save their baseball lives. Jhoulys Chacin actually pitched one heck of a game that night (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 8 K) but Colorado couldn’t hit the ball, they couldn’t manufacture runs.
It was so easy for the Rox to create runs through small ball earlier in the season, but recently it’s been difficult for whatever reason. Simple, so many players aren’t hitting the ball well so the Rockies aren’t scoring.
But it seems the Rockies may have busted out of their funk Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks in the second game of the series.
The Rox started hitting the ball boomingly, starting with Ian Stewart, just called back up from AAA Colorado Springs yesterday, as he hit a near home run double to deep left to tie the game for Colorado at one. On defense, Stewart had a great grab and throw early and a sweet jumping snag on a line drive in the ninth.
After the Stewart double, Iannetta hit a two-run home run to put the Rockies up 3-1 after four.
Two of the players that were struggling the most came through in the clutch, and Colorado benefited.
In the top of the fifth, Herrera and CarGo both walked with patience and Todd Helton knocked them home with a two-run, two out double to put the Rox up 6-1. It was the Todd Father’s 534th of his career, which tied him with Lou Gehrig. Helton on tying Gehrig, “Obviously it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.”
The first run for the Diamondbacks came in the bottom of the third inning from a fluke home run hit by Barry Enright, the D-Backs pitcher, for the first of his career.
But besides that mistake, Chacin was near-perfect heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, giving up that only hit. His confidence seemed to slip a bit in the lower half of the fifth, but after a walk, Iannetta threw out the steal attempt by Juan Miranda. Chacin worked his way out of the inning still with only one hit given up.
The second mistake of the night by Chacin came on another home run to Kelly Johnson in the bottom of the sixth. Chacin quickly recovered with his fifth K and a groundout to end the inning.
He ended the seventh in similar fashion, striking out a batter, this time with two D-Backs on base as his noteworthy night came to a close.
Basically, the Rockies hit the ball with ferocity, they let the game come to them last night and manufactured runs like they did during their hot April.
And Chacin pitched a gem of a game, he was spectacular as he got his fourth win of the season. His numbers on the night were impressive (7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 K), so much so Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck said, “Kid is growing into an ace before your very ace” on his twitter.
This was a grand game for the Colorado Rockies, nearly everything went right. (The bullpen did give up two runs late, including a scare that Huston Street was part of in the bottom of the ninth inning). They were victorious 6-4, improved their record to 18-10 overall (4 games up on SF in the NL West) and Street kept his save streak in tact with his 11th straight game saved tonight.
Here’s hoping this gets the Rockies back into their winning ways on this important divisional road trip and continue cracking the baseball, creating runs.
Rich heads up PR for K-Biz and Beezy, a Colorado-based rap group.