Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heartless Rockies Lose Again

After a weekend in which the Rockies won a road series and came back from a 5-5 road trip, the talk was that they may be finding their groove and gaining momentum.

However, the saying goes that in baseball momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher.

While Aaron Cook's performance on Tuesday night was nowhere near the collapse of Jorge De La Rosa on Monday, he still did not make the pitches he needed to when it counted.

In the sixth inning, with the Rockies down 1-0, Cook had two quick outs, but then gave up a hit to Juan Pierre, who is hitting .394, filling in quite nicely for suspended Manny Ramirez. After Pierre's hit, Cook walked Orlando Hudson and Andre Eithier, possibly getting squeezed by wildly inconsistent home plate umpire Andy Fletcher.

After the two walks, Casey Blake roped a pitch left up and out of the zone to the left-center gap, scoring three runs and putting away the Rockies for the second consecutive day. Colorado went on to lose 7-1.

Despite Cook's bad inning, he pitched well for the most part. It seemed to be representative of the Rockies season so far. Cook was simply unable to make the big pitch when it mattered most.

The problem for the Rockies is not that they continue to lose. The problem is that they are playing with no heart.

After Cook worked his way out of a first inning jam, giving up only one run, the offense had several opportunities to capitalize and scratch out one or two runs.

The story has been written too many times to count in 2008 and so far in '09. The Rockies do not get the job done with runners in scoring position. On Tuesday they continued their struggles, going 0-for-10. Troy Tulowitzki struggled again, leaving five men on base.

To see how a good team hits and gets the job done, the Rockies need to look no further than the opposite dugout. The Dodgers find ways to score runs when the opportunity arises. Where the Rockies pop out, the Dodgers hit a ball into the gap. Where the Rockies hit into a double play, the Dodgers hit a ball in the hole.

It would be easy to pass it off as bad luck for the Rockies, but that is too simple. The Rockies ineffectiveness in the clutch has gone on far too long to be about bad luck. They may be trying too hard, or swinging at bad pitches, but it goes far beyond bad luck.

The Rockies have no heart.

When they are losing they simply go through the motions, hoping for better luck the next day. During the 2007 run to the World Series, the feeling throughout the team was that they were going to find a way to win. Despite being down late in a game, it never seemed as if they were out of the game.

Maybe that was due to the clubhouse dynamics or less pressure on that team to succeed, either way, they played with determination, which was fun to watch. This team needs to find a leader who can inspire them to play every inning to win, not just when things go right. Whether that is a player, coach or manager, if they want to salvage a respectable season, they must find that person soon.

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