On Thursday night at Coors Field, the Rockies had a chance. They were down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning. Jhoulys Chacin wasn't sharp, and his defense was even less sharp. However, the Rockies still had plenty of outs left to work with to crawl back into the game.
Chacin walked to lead off the third inning, then came around to score on back-to-back singles by Dexter Fowler and Mark Ellis. Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong came back to strike out Carlos Gonzalez, but immediately walked Seth Smith on four pitches to load the bases with one out.
Suddenly, the Rockies were right back in the game. They had already put a run on the board, and with just one out, had the bases loaded and a pitcher on the mound who couldn't find his control.
Enter Ty Wigginton. After two straight pitches out of the zone, the feeling should have been that one swing of the bat could score a couple of runs, or even a pitch down the heart of the plate could end up being deposited into the bleachers to tie up the game.
The problem for the Rockies, however, is that no one who knows this team well expected that to happen. Instead, Wigginton decided to hack away at a 2-0 pitch, grounding into his 10th double play of the season.
That at-bat typifies the Rockies season. Look no further to see what is wrong with this team. That at bat by Wigginton, was horrible baseball. It was ugly, it was selfish, it was immature baseball.
Watch a good team every now and then. Watch the way they approach an at-bat. Take Ryan Braun for example. On Monday night in Milwaukee, Braun stood at the plate with a full count in the bottom of the 11th inning against Matt Lindstrom. Instead of being impatient and trying to drive the first pitch that he got a chance to hit, he waited. He didn't try to turn on the next pitch in the strike zone. He fouled off pitch-after-pitch-after-pitch, when he finally got a pitch to drive, he launched it deep over the center field fence.
Wigginton, and most of the Rockies, get impatient at the plate and try to force it. They swing as hard as they can at the first pitch in the zone. Instead of putting a ball over the fence, the results are usually what they were for Wigginton on Thursday night, a double play that gets the pitcher off the hook.
The pressure in a situation like that is completely on the pitcher. The guy on the mound is the one who is painted into the corner. He must be perfect to get out of the situation without giving up a run.
Good teams take advantage of situations like that. Bad teams get impatient and swing away.
This team has the talent to be in the playoffs. Anyone who thinks that the Rockies are less physically talented than the Arizona Diamondbacks is delusional. However, the standings would say differently. Why is that? Because the Diamondbacks play team baseball. They take good at-bats, and they keep the pressure on the pitcher.
The Rockies don't play the game the right way. They don't play team baseball, and that type of baseball gets you what the Rockies have earned. Fourth place.