Monday, July 19, 2010

Walk off loss represents Rockies season

Donnie Murphy ended what looked like the Rockies first late inning win after the All-Star break. He launched a two-run walk off home run to right-center field to give the Marlins a 9-8 victory.

After booting a routine ground ball double play that resulted in a three run inning, Jonathan Herrera redeemed himself in the top of the 8th inning, stroking his first career home run to the seats in right field to give the Rockies a one-run cushion.

Rafael Betancourt was flawless in the bottom half of the 8th inning, but after getting two quick outs in the 9th, Huston Street chose to pitch carefully to Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla. Uggla leads the Marlins in home runs and Street did not want him tying the game up, especially with a career minor leaguer on deck behind him.

With Uggla on first after a semi-intentional pass, Murphy, in just his fifth plate appearance in the big leagues since 2008, took Street deep to end the game.

The loss is a tough one to take. Especially considering ace Ubaldo Jimenez was on the mound to start the game and looked to be sharp. Without the error on Herrera, Jimenez cruises out of the first three innings with less than 30 pitches. Instead, the Marlins walk to the dugout with a three-spot and a one-run lead.

With the game nearly cinched up, Street made a huge mistake. Instead of pounding the strike zone and getting Uggla, a big swing and miss bat, to wave at a few sliders, Street clearly wanted to pass on the challenge and take his shot at the youngster.

The move makes some sense. Uggla is an All-Star who can drive the ball and Street did not want him to tie the game up when he had a young kid who had just been in Triple-A waiting on deck to make the third out. However, putting the tying run on base is usually not a good idea.

For the Rockies, they seem to have success when they play with a swagger. They must play like they could care less who is on the mound for the opposing team, who is in the on deck circle and when they quit worrying about what could go wrong. They start to lose when they try to get the matchups that they want and try to force the game.

While Uggla is a good hitter, he does not deserve Barry Bonds treatment. He does not deserve to be treated like if Street were to put anything anywhere near the zone the game would be tied up, regardless of who is in the on-deck circle.

Hindsight is 20/20, maybe Uggla smacks a game-tying home run. However, the odds would point to the fact that he is much more likely to hit a ground ball to an infielder, or strike out than he is to hit a home run. Especially when Huston Street has his good stuff.

The game itself was not one that the Rockies were supposed to win. They played ugly, something that is starting to overshadow the bright spots. Two errors put them in a very bad spot, and poor clutch hitting kept them from winning the game.

Despite scoring eight runs, Colorado looks like someone forgot to tell them that the All-Star break was only three days long. They look like the shell of the team that won eight of their final 10 games before the break. They are not playing with the same type of swagger.

If they want to keep up with the Padres, who do not seem to be fading away, they need to stop giving games away. If they don't, they will finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the crowded National League West race and watch the playoffs at home, wondering what went wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Street did not have his best stuff. His first two outs were on fairly deep fly balls. Uggla did not cooperate by chasing, and got lucky when he walked on strike two. That was a good at bat. The game winning HR was painful, especially since it was a minor leaguer who did not appear to have hit it all that hard. I think somebody switched the humidor off before this one, the way the balls were flying out of there. I don't know what to tell you about UJ; he says he was tired after 3 innings. But other teams manage to play in the heat without wilting. Like you said, the Rox need a little more swagger.

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