|Drew Pomeranz provided half of the offense in the Rockies loss.|
On Monday night in San Diego, the Rockies lost to the Padres 3-2.
After scoring eight runs on Friday night and nine runs on Saturday, the offense has been nearly non-existent the past two days, scoring two runs in each contest. Half of the offense came from the bat of rookie pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who hit is first career home run to left field in the top of the 3rd inning.
As exciting as hitting a home run may have been for Pomeranz, his night on the mound wasn't as much fun. In the previous half inning before launching the home run, the lefty was hit by a line drive from Edinson Volquez on the leg. He pitched through it, but ended up coming out of the game due to the injury tightening up.
In the 6th inning, the Rockies had a chance. With runners at second and third base and one out, Padres manager Bud Black went to lefty specialist Joe Thatcher. He was able to get Todd Helton to strike out. Black went back to the bullpen to get Brad Brach to face Michael Cuddyer. The right-hander got Cuddyer looking, preserving the lead.
Early in the game, Volquez was all over the place. At one point, he threw 10 straight balls. That generally means a big night for an offensive team, especially one with the talent of the Rockies.
Unfortunately, the at-bats from the club started to look more like 2011 then early in the 2012 season. Carlos Gonzalez swung at a 3-1 pitch with runners on and bounced out to second base. Wilin Rosario swung at two pitches out of the zone. Cuddyer hacked at a pitch at his eyes.
Early in the season, when a pitcher was on the ropes, the Rockies offense did a good job of putting the pressure on and forcing the pitcher to either throw strikes or walk them. That approach was nowhere to be found on Monday night.
The base running didn't help either, as the Rockies helped Volquez out of an inning when he was struggling to throw strikes. Both Cuddyer and Rosario made base running errors, first when Cuddyer stole second, but over-slid the bag and was tagged out. Next came when Rosario saw a pitch in the dirt and took off, only to be gunned down by 10 feet.
When the pitching has been as bad as it has been, it would make sense that an offense starts to press. Instead of taking good at-bats, they start to feel like they have to score eight or nine runs per game, which means that they have to swing the bat, even when the opposing pitchers are struggling. Obviously that isn't necessarily true, but it is easy for an offense to feel that way when their pitchers are giving up so many runs.
As the Rockies start looking more like the team the critics accused them of being, there is still reason for excitement. The club announced that on Tuesday Alex White will start on the mound, and on Wednesday afternoon, former first-round draft pick Christian Friedrich will make his Major League debut.
The reality is, it is time to see what these young pitchers can do. White wasn't impressive in his debut in 2011, but much of that was due to recovering from injury. His sinker wasn't sinking and he was giving up the long ball.
Friedrich has been a question mark for the past two seasons after looking like a great pick before that. He struggled in Double-A for two consecutive years, but dropped 30 lbs in the offseason and looked great in spring training.
Whether or not these guys are ready or not isn't important anymore. The way the Rockies have been playing, it is time to see what they can do. There is no reason to continue forward with what is not working. The starting rotation simply isn't working.
Getting to see what the team has on the farm is always exciting. Friedrich might be making his debut about a season after the club originally anticipated, but seeing what he can do and if he can step up and solidify a rotation spot will be interesting.
The reality is, with the rotation struggling the way it has been, both White and Friedrich have an opportunity to not just make a start or two, but prove that they belong in the rotation. They may not have a better chance in their careers to make an impact and prove that they are ready.
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