The Rockies dropped what at one point was a pitcher's duel, 6-1 on Father's Day at Coors Field. Aaron Cook was good, but once again managed to blow a lead, albeit a small one, one inning after receiving it. After Brad Hawpe homered in the second inning, Cook walked two Brewers in the top of the third inning, including Brewer's pitcher Randy Wolf, which set up a game tying single from Corey Hart.
To be fair to Cook, however, it was not his fault. The Rockies offense made Randy Wolf look like an All-Star, notching only three hits off of the lefty. Scoring one run in a game worked for a win on Friday night, working twice in a series was highly unlikely.
The offense is the biggest enigma for the Rockies. They are not the San Francisco Giants. They have a lineup loaded with players who can hit the ball with authority. They should be scoring more runs than they have been. So why aren't they hitting?
At some point the fingers must point towards the top. Jim Tracy continues to use Clint Hurdle-type lineups. He mixes and matches every single night trying to find the right fit. To his credit, he has to do something to get the team going. However, on Sunday he made some head scratching decisions.
Instead of putting Melvin Mora at third base and giving Ian Stewart a day off and keeping his beloved righty on lefty matchups in play, Tracy decided that since Stewart hit a home run off of Randy Wolf during the opening series of the season, that he should play that card. Then, because Tracy wanted to get Mora's right handed bat into the lineup, he decided to put Mora in left field and take Seth Smith out of the lineup.
Smith is a better hitter against righties than lefties, as most lefties are. Smith is hitting just .167 against lefties so far on the season. At first glance that number looks like it justifies Smith riding the pine a day after driving in three of the Rockies seven runs when he didn't have an at bat until the 7th inning. The only problem is, those numbers don't tell the whole story.
Smith often gets the tough lefty out of the bullpen late in games. He gets the guy who throws from a different arm slot, or fires 96-97 MPH. Those guys are tough for anyone to hit. In addition to that, Smith has just 24 at bats against lefties all season long. Anyone who knows baseball will admit that not getting consistent at bats makes it tough to get in a groove.
Does Jim Tracy not think that if given the proper amount of time to adjust and consistent at bats, that Seth Smith will eventually hit them very well? Anyone who has watched Smith play over the past three seasons knows that he is the type of player, and has the type of swing that will be successful in the big leagues, not just against righties, but against lefties as well.
As for Ian Stewart, who has been struggling of late? He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He left four men on base. Sometimes Jim Tracy plays so many numbers games in his own head that he confuses himself. Just because Stewart hit a home run off of Wolf two and a half months ago does not mean that he is suddenly going to come out of his slump and pound the ball off of him today.
With Iannetta in the lineup on a day game after a night game and Stewart 6-for-34 in June hitting against a lefty, Tracy's lineup card's last four hitters consisted of Iannetta, Stewart, Barmes and Cook. That is not exactly a recipe for success, especially when it is considered that Iannetta has had just six hits since returning from his demotion to Colorado Springs. Overall, the Rockies are just 4-12 when Iannetta straps on the gear. On the other side of the coin, the Rockies are a robust 32-17 when Olivo is behind the plate.
Tracy's other big mistake on Sunday was going to Manny Corpas in the 9th inning. Not because of the fact that Corpas wasn't sharp on Saturday night, but because of the fact that it was Corpas' fourth straight day of work. Corpas is the type of pitcher who needs his arm to be fresh to get the right bite on his sinker. If his arm tires, he starts throwing under the ball, which flattens out his slider, making it extremely hittable.
At some point Jim Tracy has to quit making excuses for why his team doesn't win games and point the finger at himself.
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