Sunday, June 19, 2011

Colorado Rockies finish good homestand, but must continue to be better at Coors

Let's face it. 6-4 at home isn't going to cut it.

The Colorado Rockies finished off their longest homestand of the season by facing the toughest pitcher they have faced all season long. On Sunday, Justin Verlander absolutely dominated an offense that had caught fire. The flame-throwing right-hander tossed a complete game, giving up just one home run on a Ty Wigginton solo shot in the fifth.

For all intents and purposes, the game was over when Aaron Cook surrendered two runs in the top of the third inning to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. With Verlander on the hill, the Rockies didn't stand much of a chance.

There were definitely some positive moments for the Rockies on this 10-game homestand. Tossing out Sunday, this club seemed to turn the corner offensively. They figured out how to score runs in bunches, and not quit with two outs. They didn't lose a series, splitting four games with the Dodgers and taking both series with the Padres and Tigers.

However, the fact is, the Rockies are going to need to be better than a 6-4 team at home. They might be able to walk away from the homestand with some positives, knowing that they are capable of being a better team than they were throughout May. Yet, 6-4 at home, with as many struggles as this team has away from Coors Field, simply isn't going to cut it.

The reality is, the way the Rockies struggle on the road, the club needs to play phenomenal baseball at home. Just picking up positives along the way isn't going to cut it. Even though 6-4 still represents a .600 winning percentage, the reality is, that number needs to be closer to .700, or .650 at the least.

Looking back at the homestand, the Rockies lost momentum on the third game against the Dodgers. That was when Jim Tracy made the most changes to the lineup. He sat Seth Smith, and he left Chris Nelson and Todd Helton on the bench. Giving guys days off is important, but when a team is on a winning streak, even a modest three-game winning streak, the manager needs to run the exact same guys out there and go with what is working.

Of course, blaming Jim Tracy isn't going to solve anything. He doesn't swing the bats or throw the pitches. Yet, he has to take his fair share of the blame.

Three-of-the-four losses came in a row, two against the Dodgers, and then the opener against the Padres. The momentum from the first two Dodger games was stopped in it's tracks.

One Dodger loss came when Ubaldo Jimenez was on the mound and simply didn't have it. He was back to the confused Jimenez who was often seen in April and May. His velocity was down and his pitches didn't have any bite. The good news for the Rockies is that the dominant Jimenez returned to the mound on Saturday, helping the Rockies take the series verses the Tigers.

The finale on Sunday was a lost cause. Aaron Cook is still looking to prove himself, and frankly, he hasn't been the same pitcher that was once the ace of the staff for a long time. Pitting him against Verlander was a horrible matchup from the get-go, and honestly, the Rockies' chances were not very good from jump street.

The 10-game homestand, while not where they needed to finish, still provided hope for these Rockies. The offense is clicking. They are finding their groove. Even the defense seems to be less sloppy. However, the next challenge is finding a way to bring the same offense with them on the road, something that has eluded them since their inception.

Maybe playing two good American League teams will break them out of their funk on the road. That would certainly take some of the pressure away from winning at Coors Field.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be glad when Cook's salary comes off the books. He's done as a starter.