Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rockies Blow Wild Card Lead In San Francisco

So much for that four game lead in the Wild Card race.

The Rockies went to San Francisco for a three game weekend series that was supposed to solidify their lead in the Wild Card race and instead return to Denver with their tails between their legs and serious issues raring their ugly heads.

It looked good for the Rockies. They got an early lead off Giants starter Matt Cain and had his pitch count over 100 in the fifth inning. It looked like the Rockies were finally coming out of their funk and would avoid their first sweep under the leadership of manager Jim Tracy.

Rockies starter Jason Hammel cruised through the first five innings, facing the minimum number of hitters through the first three innings and throwing a remarkable 42 pitches through five innings. He left the game in the sixth when he ran into trouble, staring at Giant base runners on second and third with no one out.

Franklin Morales walked to the mound and did a brilliant job of getting the Rockies out of the inning with only one run scoring on a sacrifice fly.

Then Jim Tracy made his first bad decision.

After the Rockies added an insurance run and got back to a 5-2 lead, Tracy decided to leave Morales in the game for the seventh inning. After loading the bases without getting an out, Tracy went out and got him, in favor of Rafael Betancourt.

Betancourt immediately missed his spot to Edgar Renteria who launched a no-doubter to left field, giving the Giants a lead that they would not relinquish.

In the top of the eighth Clint Barmes once again showed why he has no business being on a Major League field. Down one run, Ian Stewart led off the inning with a double, looking to swing the momentum back on their side. The next batter was seven hole hitter Barmes, who seems to come up to bat in the biggest of situations regardless of where he is in the lineup.

A light hitting second baseman who is hitting under .250 and rarely walks should be a phenomenal bunter. He should be able to get the little things done to help the club win. Instead, for the second straight day, Barmes popped a bunt up and blew his chance to help the team win.

The mechanics behind his bunt were ridiculously bad. Little league coaches teach young hitters how to bunt by putting a mit on the end of the bat and explaining that instead of pushing the bat to the ball, a bunter should receive the ball with the bat, allowing the bat to deaden the ball and get down on the ground.

Instead, Barmes swatted the bat to the ball and popped out in the biggest at-bat in the 2009 season. Yorvit Torrealba came to the plate and hit a hard single to right, too hard to score Stewart from second base. If Barmes gets the job done, Stewart scores and the game is tied.

Barmes' epic failure became a moot point in the bottom half of the eighth, when the Giants batted around in consecutive innings.

Tracy's second horrible decision came in the bottom half of the eighth.

Down by just one run, Tracy decided to go with Juan Rincon to keep the Rockies in the game. Big mistake.

Rincon loaded the bases without getting a single out. He could not find his location and was hanging every single slider that he threw. A double in the left-center gap and the Rockies were out of it.

The loss was sickening for Rockies fans. This was not the team that got themselves back in the race after being so far behind over the last three months.

The Rockies starting rotation is hanging on by a thread after the loss of Aaron Cook, and the bullpen is in total shambles. Juan Rincon is not the answer in a one run game, Matt Daley has given reason to question his effectiveness over his last three outings, and Betancourt has gotten hit hard his last two times out.

The Rockies get a much needed day off on Monday before starting a 10 game home stand against the Mets. It will be very important for the Rockies to start playing better at home and find a way to bounce back from a horrible weekend.

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