It was, without a doubt, the worst walk off victory in the history of the Colorado Rockies.
If the Rockies would have ended up on the wrong end of the score on Sunday, there would be only one person to blame. No, not Huston Street. Not Clint Barmes, who looked like a little leaguer chasing after an infield fly ball that nearly cost the Rockies the game.
The person to blame for Sunday's meltdown at Coors Field is Jim Tracy.
The reigning National League Manager of the Year has made some interesting decisions throughout the course of the year. However, it is hard to question the man who led the Rockies to a record setting comeback after taking over in late May of 2009.
Despite his success in the past, Sunday's mistakes cannot be ignored.
Tracy's first mistake? The starting lineup. With Miguel Olivo mired in a 0-for-25 slump, he was slotted in the seven hole. Following Olivo was the pull-happy Barmes, followed by the pitcher's spot. With Ian Stewart in from of Olivo, the Rockies were even more strikeout heavy at the back end of the lineup than normal.
Although Stewart had a great day at the plate--blasting a home run in the 4th inning, he is still a strikeout threat. That is exactly what he did in the bottom of the 8th inning with the bases loaded and no one out. Following Stewart were Olivo and Barmes who took horrible at bats. Olivo would have been lucky to make contact, let alone put the ball in play. Needless to say, the Rockies left the bases loaded and had to settle for a two-run lead.
The next mistake Tracy made was putting runners at first and second in motion in the 6th inning with one out and Clint Barmes at the plate with a full count. Barmes, as mentioned before, has been in a huge slump and is far too prone to the strikeout. He swung through the pitch and Melvin Mora was a dead duck at third base, running the club out of a chance to at least get through Ubaldo Jimenez's spot in the lineup. Aggressiveness is something that club's need when they are slumping, but it needs to be smart aggressiveness, not unwise running.
The last move that Tracy made was the most head scratching. After pushing Ubaldo Jimenez through eight innings despite his pitch count sitting at 99 through seven. Then, after a quick 8th inning, instead of allowing Jimenez to finish the game, Tracy went to Huston Street for the third straight day, and after throwing two innings on Saturday.
As Mark Townsend from Heaven & Helton pointed out earlier in the week, Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees closer, the best closer the game has ever seen, has pitched three straight days exactly zero times in 2010. Zero. That's right, with all the Yankee's wins, with all the opportunities to gather in saves, Rivera has not pitched in three straight all season long.
Throw in the fact that Street has been struggling for the last two weeks and you have a bone-headed decision. If it was alright for Street to pitch in three straight games, and four innings in three days, why would it have been a bad decision to simply let Jimenez finish what he started, especially considering the Rockies have an off day on Monday, allowing Jimenez an extra day of rest.
Was the decision based on what the three hitters due up in the 9th had done against Jimenez throughout the game? That might be a good reason to go away from Jimenez. However, the three due up in the 9th were combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts on the day.
The decision made no sense, and it cost Jimenez his 18th win and nearly cost the Rockies the game. Moves like that can be excused every now and then, but with Jim Tracy they are becoming far too frequent.
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