For the second time in as many days the Rockies starting pitcher could not find his command and therefore made it easy for the opposition to pick up an easy win. On Friday the victim was Jason Hammel and the final score was 9-5 Braves.
Hammel, who had a great spring, never was comfortable on the mound at Turner Field. When Chris Iannetta set up on the inside part of the plate the pitch went to the outside, when he set up on the outside the pitch went to the inside. When Hammel did hit his spot home plate umpire Jeff Nelson seemed to find a way to call it a ball.
When all was said and done, Hammel was in the dugout before the end of the second inning. He logged 1-2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs, all earned. He walked three and struck out one. The ugly outing ballooned his early season ERA to 11.42. Of the nine runs the Braves scored, seven of them came in the 35 minute bottom of the second inning.
There was some good news for the Rockies. The offense, who was shutout on Thursday, did not roll over when the Braves put up the seven spot in the second inning. In fact, they even made a game of it when Seth Smith pinch hit for Manny Corpas in the fifth inning and launched a three-run home run to move the Rockies within four runs.
Corpas also took a step forward. The one-time closer of the Rockies has been gradually finding his stuff again. With Esmil Rogers being shipped out in favor of Joe Beimel, the club does not have a legitimate long reliever. In other words, Friday night was the absolute worst time for Hammel to blow up. However, Corpas stepped in and did a great job. In 2-1/3 innings he gave up just one run on three hits. It was not perfect, but it was enough to bridge the gap for the Rockies bullpen and show that Corpas may be able to fit the role of a multi-inning guy.
There is no one suggesting that the Rockies are playing good baseball. This team is better than what they are showing right now. On the field they look like all of the pieces are yet to come together. It seems like the new guys have yet to find their niche in the clubhouse. However, despite not looking very good, the club sits at 5-5. There are plenty of things worse than owning a .500 record after 10 games.
The fact is, the notoriously slow starting Rockies need to tread water for the first month of the season. If they finish at or near .500 when April is over they will be just fine. The defense will come together eventually and the five starting pitchers that the Rockies have will win their fair share of games.
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