Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Colorado Rockies spoil Kevin Millwood's debut

One step forward, two steps back.

That is the story of the Colorado Rockies season. Just when things start to come together, when the team is hitting well, pitching well and playing fundamental baseball, they have to go and mess it all up.

On Wednesday night in Cincinnati, the Rockies were given a lift by newly-acquired pitcher Kevin Millwood. The 36-year old right-hander is more than just a journeyman pitcher, he is a guy who has been dominant in his career, winning 18 games in two seasons, 17 in another, and 16 in another.

In all, Millwood has racked up 159 career wins. He should have had another on Wednesday, but the Rockies couldn't produce any runs from the 13 hits that they produced.

The one constant in the Rockies disappointing season has been sloppy base running. The ironic thing is, sometimes the bad base running has been called for from the dugout. In the ninth inning, with the tying run at third base and one out, Eric Young, Jr., went on contact with Dexter Fowler at the plate. The ball Fowler hit was gloved by the pitcher Francisco Cordero, who threw to the plate, getting Young caught up in a rundown. Fowler was able to advance to second base on the play, but the opportunity was wasted.

How many times are the Rockies going to call for the contact play before they realize that it either doesn't work, or their luck is simply terrible when that play is on. There have been at least six incidences over the course of the 2011 season in which the Rockies have made an out at the plate with less than two outs due to the contact play.

The reality is, the Rockies aren't a fundamental team. On Wednesday they hit into four double plays. One of which came from Ty Wigginton tapped a pitch three inches in front of the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Carlos Gonzalez hit into two double plays, although both times the Reds defense made nice plays to turn a hit into two outs.

For the Rockies, the really disappointing thing is that the San Francisco Giants are begging for someone to take first place away from them. As poor as the Rockies season has gone, a win would have put them within eight games of first place in the National League West. Imagine that, the Rockies, with a good weekend, could seriously be back into contention talk. This team, however, seems determined not to let themselves get back into the race. They simply don't do the little things well enough to win close games.

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