Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rockies Blow Lead Behind Poor Defense, Lose to Nats

The Rockies are good at giving away three run leads. In 15 games so far in 2010 the Rockies have lost three games in which they held a 3-0 lead. On Wednesday the Nationals came back from a 3-0 deficit to win 6-4 late in the game.

While the Nationals strung together a nice little comeback victory, the rest of Washington D.C. must have had something else to do. A team that has struggled since it moved from Montreal six years ago has effectively lost its connection with the capitol city.

The announced crowd was 11,191. The actual crowd was nowhere near that number. If the truth were told there may have been 1,000 people there. It made a Marlins fans look die hard. For those with a long memory, it looked like Migh High Stadium when the Denver Zephyrs played in the 75,000 seat NFL stadium.

The Nationals lackadaisical fan base was eerily similar to the Rockies defensive effort on Wednesday. As the old baseball saying goes, bad defense is contagious.

While there may be no truth to that, it cannot be overlooked that every time Jason Giambi starts at first base, the Rockies defensive fundamentals go out the window.

Giambi was not charged with an error, but misplayed a ball hit right at him. The defensive wheels fell off at that point. Troy Tulowitzki dropped a routine ground ball, then Clint Barmes booted a ground ball of his own.

It is frightening how a team that could not miss a ground ball in 2009 suddenly looks like they have no business being on the infield in 2010. Tulowitzki has misplayed more routine ground balls in April than he has in his entire career to date.

Is it the Giambi effect? Are the infielders starting to think about making a perfect throw to first before they field the ball because they know that Giambi will not be able to make the same digs that Todd Helton does? At some point a decision is going to have to be made in regards to getting Helton rest. It may be important for Helton to take a day or two off every week, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Giambi should be nothing more than a pinch hitter.

The season is young and the Rockies are one game under .500. They are only two games back of the lead in the National League West, and they are currently trailing the Padres, a team that stands very little chance of finding themselves anywhere near that spot come September.

This Rockies team is going to figure it out. They have too much talent not to. The starting pitching is going to find its stride. Aaron Cook will rediscover his sinker, Jason Hammel will attack the strike zone and Greg Smith will continue to get better. However, they have to turn it on mentally.

Lackluster play in April is exactly what has gotten this club in trouble the past three years. Climbing out of a huge hole is obviously possible. This club showed that it can happen. However, getting out of that hole might take every ounce of energy. For the Rockies, it would be much better if they figure it out sooner rather than later.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on InDenverTimes.com

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