Friday, May 22, 2009

Aggressive Rockies Lose Another One Run Game


When it rains, it pours.

That seemed to be the case for the 2009 Colorado Rockies as they could not catch a break Friday night in Detroit. The Rockies lost the opener of a three game series 4-3. This time it was what the Rockies focused on all spring, aggressive base running. That, along with a defensive miscue in the eight inning, brought the Rockies season record to 1-9, the worst one run record in the Majors.

The Rockies did put up a fight, down 4-1 going into the ninth inning Brad Hawpe worked a walk and then trotted home on a home run hit by Seth Smith off of Tigers closer Joel Zumaya to bring the club within one run. After Garrett Atkins was hit by a pitch, Ian Stewart lined a ball into right center field, bringing Omar Quintanilla, pinch running for Atkins, to third base.

Fowler came up with an opportunity to tie the game, but struck out on a triple digit fastball from Zumaya, ending the game.

While the ninth inning provided drama, the biggest factor for the Rockies was their base running. In the third inning with Fowler on second base, Troy Tulowitzki lined a single to left field. Fowler quickly rounded third base and headed for home. The ball could not have found left fielder Josh Anderson any better. On two hops Anderson fielded the ball and threw a perfect strike to the plate, nailing Fowler.

In the sixth inning, with a run already in, the Rockies had runners on first and third with no outs. Ryan Spilborghs came to bat and hit a hard ground ball that was stabbed by first baseman Miguel Cabrera near the foul line. Todd Helton, the runner at third, believed that Cabrera would throw to second to start the double play. Instead Cabrera quickly touched first base and fired home, getting Helton by three steps.

With the Rockies down 3-1 in the eighth inning and two men on for Detroit Manny Corpas came in and got a ground ball to third base. Atkins touched third and fired to first base. The throw pulled Helton off the bag and the runner was safe. That throw, while not an error, cost the Rockies. Corpas walked the next batter, loading the bases. He then induced a ground ball that Tulowitzki made an amazing play on in the hole. He fired to second base to get the runner, but Clint Barmes was unable to turn the double play the fourth run crossed the plate for the Tigers. If Atkins had made a better throw, it would have been the third out of the inning and Smith's ninth inning home run would have tied the game.

While many will blame Clint Hurdle for this loss, it really was just a tough luck loss for the Rockies on Friday. In his career, there will probably be very few times that Fowler will get thrown out at the plate from second on a ball hit to the outfield. In fact, if Fowler is not sent home on that play, many would be blaming Hurdle for not being aggressive with Fowler's speed.

While Helton probably should have seen the ball through in the sixth, the reality is, his aggressiveness normally turns into a run. More times than not, a first baseman's instincts make him throw to second for the sure-fire double play.

While it is another tough luck loss for the Rockies, it needs to be quickly forgotten. The visiting club outhit the Tigers and seemed to be on their game more than the home team. More things had to go right for the Tigers than had to go wrong for the Rockies. It just happened to be one of those nights. At some point, things will turn for Colorado if they play games like this. However, it seems like it keeps pouring rain on this team.

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