Aaron Cook had seven great innings of baseball. Unfortunately, he was in the game for eight innings.
In the bottom of the first inning, Cook gave up a grand slam to Hideki Matsui, a veteran player who is not a stranger to the big slam. It was his fourth in America after he hit eight in his career in Japan.
The slam was set up by an error by Ian Stewart. With one out and a runner on first base, Bobby Abreu hit a soft ground ball that sent Stewart to his left. He gloved the ball and tried to flip it to Jonathan Herrera at second base. The flip was a little high, and right into the sun, causing Herrera to miss the ball. The ball may not have been hit hard enough for a double play, but the error changed the inning.
Torii Hunter stepped to the plate and blooped a soft fly ball into right field, loading the bases. Cook then went to a 3-0 count on Matsui. Anyone who has watched Cook during his career knows that in a situation like that--bases loaded and a 3-0 count, Cook simply throws a fastball in the middle of the plate and hopes for the best.
The best didn't happen, as Matsui hit the ball 10 feet over the fence in center field.
After that, Cook was brilliant. He threw a total of 100 pitches, 67 for strikes in the eight innings that he pitched. The redhead recorded 17 of his 24 outs on the ground.
The loss makes Sunday's game important for the Rockies who are looking to take the series in Anaheim. However, Cook did one very good thing for the Rockies. After two straight games in which the Rockies played extra innings, the bullpen was spent. Manny Corpas had pitched in eight of the past 10 games, Matt Belisle pitched 3-1/3 innings on Friday and Rafael Betancourt had appeared in three straight games. The outing by Cook allowed the Rockies to rest their bullpen, something that will pay off down the road, despite the loss by the Rockies.
Cook's performance, despite giving up the grand slam, was a very good one. With Jorge De La Rosa's return tentatively scheduled for July 7th, the Rockies are going to have to make a difficult decision when it comes to their starting five. Until last Sunday, the weakest link in the rotation was Cook.
The way that Jhoulys Chacin has pitched, and with Jason Hammel's recent success, there was some talk that the Rockies might be making a poor decision by sending Chacin back down and that they should explore other options for the strugging Cook. However, with Cook's recent performance, it has become increasingly clear that despite Chacin's maturity at the Major League level, he will be a victim of having options and will find himself in Colorado Springs on July 7th.
The other tough decision that the Rockies are going to have to make soon involves the bullpen. Taylor Buchholz, who missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to return. In 2008, Buchholz was one of the top setup men in the game. His return means that the Rockies are going to have to create a roster spot for him.
The decision should be easy for the Rockies. The move that needs to be made is simple. Franklin Morales needs to be the one sent to Colorado Springs. Despite having all the talent in the world, Morales simply has not been able to prove that he can get it done at the Major League level. His mechanics are out of whack, but afflicts Morales more than his mechanics is his own head. The 26-year old throws a pitch that he feels is a strike, and when it is called a ball he completely melts on the mound. The snowball effect usually results in several base runners and runs for the opposition.
The Rockies simply do not need Morales. They already have two lefties in the 'pen with Randy Flores and Joe Beimel, so they will not be missing out on having a guy ready to face a tough lefty.
Either way, the Rockies getting both De La Rosa and Buchholz back is a good thing. It will give the Rockies not only fresh arms, but also it gives them more talent to work with.
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