|The Rockies lost another one thanks to Jim Tracy.|
In the top of the 7th inning, in a 2-1 game, Jim Tracy elected to allow pitcher Alex White to lead off the frame. White was pitching well in his 2012 debut. He had given Tracy six strong innings and kept his team in the ballgame. However, he was as much of a guaranteed out as it gets in Major League Baseball.
The offense had just nine outs to work with, and an offense that has sputtered on the road, and had scored just two runs in the previous 18 innings. On a humid night at Petco Park where the air gets extremely heavy at night, runs come at a premium.
Of course, White struck out for the first out of the inning.
So what's the big deal? It was the first out of the inning and it was only the 7th inning anyway. Of course, saying that the Rockies bullpen has been overused is as big of an understatement as can be made. So it makes some sense to try to extend the starter for another inning.
The problem starts there, however. White was making his first big league start of the year. He had already given the club and the bullpen a huge lift by pitching through six innings. To this bullpen, it probably felt like he had pitched 16 straight innings. However, he was understandably tiring on the mound.
So what happened? White went back out to the mound and walked the first hitter, got an out, then gave up a single to put runners on first and third with one out. Tracy went and got White, choosing Matt Reynolds to face lefty Wil Venable. Reynolds got the strikeout. Tracy went back to the mound to get a right-on-right matchup with Cameron Maybin facing Esmil Rogers.
Rogers ended up getting the strikeout, putting the Rockies back in the dugout.
It may have seemed like great maneuvering by Tracy. He had pieced together three pitchers to get out of a runner-on-third-one-out-jam.
Look deeper. Now of course, there is no guarantee that a pinch hitter gets on base, in fact, the results may have been exactly the same. However, what if Dexter Fowler or Chris Nelson came in and got a base hit. The Rockies would have the tying run on with no outs and a plethora of possibilities to score the tying run.
Of course, the run never scored, the pinch-hitter never happened. So who knows what would have happened.
The Rockies then headed back to the field for the bottom of the 8th inning. Who was on the mound for the Rockies? Rogers. After getting a huge strikeout to end the previous inning, Tracy opted to go back to Rogers for the 8th. The frustration with Rogers is that he isn't inconsistent from outing-to-outing, he is inconsistent from hitter-to-hitter.
Rogers immediately walked Yonder Alonso. After getting an out, Rogers then predictably gave up a triple to Orlando Hudson. Alonso nearly was thrown out, but Marco Scutaro fumbled the relay throw and there was no play at the plate.
Tracy had to go back to the mound and get newcomer (and after Tuesday's game newly departed) Adam Ottavino.
So, for review, Jim Tracy gave away one of the remaining nine offensive outs in a one-run game in order to allow Alex White to pitch another inning and save the tired bullpen. In that inning, White got one out while allowing two base runners. To get the additional two outs, Tracy had to use two relief pitchers, both of whom have been overworked.
Instead of trying to keep the club within one, Tracy chose to go back to Rogers in the bottom of the 8th. He predictably gave up another run, effectively putting the Rockies out of it.
Tracy has to decide what he wants to be. Does he want to be a guy who saves the tired bullpen? If so, he needs to forget about winning the game and give the bullpen much needed rest.
Or, does Tracy want to be a manager who wants to win the game in front of the team that day? Of course no manager can run pitchers out there over and over. That is simply irresponsible. However, the way Tracy managed on Tuesday night, he picked neither of those options and ended up with what he wished for. Not only did the team not win, but he wasn't able to save a tired bullpen, even when his starter gave him 6-1/3 beautiful innings.
Despite the ineptitude in the Rockies dugout, one thing must be mentioned. The Rockies got an excellent start from White. If there was one thing good that came from the game on Tuesday it was that the Rockies might have a few answers down on the farm. White looked great. He pounded the strike zone and did more than anyone could have expected. He certainly looked better than he did in September of 2011. That is a very positive development for the Rockies.
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