|Freddie Freeman is a Rockies-killer.|
The Colorado Rockies had already blown the two games that they should have won in this series. They were due for a tough offensive day after pounding Atlanta's pitchers for two straight days, both in losing causes.
On Sunday, Juan Nicasio looked good, but then gave up a three run home run to Freddie Freeman, who feasts on Rockies pitching, and realistically, the day was over for the home team.
If the team couldn't win when they had a six run leads in each of the previous days, how could they be expected to win when they were down by three runs. It sounds pessimistic, but would anyone fault the offense if thoughts like that crept into their heads?
Nicasio took the loss, and wasn't on top of his game. The headlines will suggest that his start is what lost the game for the team. Those are accurate assertions. However, Nicasio is in a situation where he doesn't have much room to grow up as a pitcher. He is older than many prospects making their way in the big leagues, but Nicasio still has less than 20 big league starts under his belt and is coming off an injury that should have ended his career.
Nicasio is 25-years-old, but keep in mind, he didn't start playing baseball until he was 18-years-old. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, he worked to help his family pay the bills and didn't have the time to play baseball with many of the other kids. Considering that he has been playing baseball for seven years and still pitching at the level that he is at is incredible. Asking him to carry the load that he has been carrying is impossible. He must be given time to figure out how to pitch without the weight of a team on his back.
In all, Nicasio gave up six earned runs in five innings of work. He struck out five and walked three. The big blow was Freeman's blast with two outs in the third inning.
The reality for this team is that, while the offense seems to be doing well, they just finished a nine-game home stand with three wins and six losses. That isn't going to cut it. Heading on a west coast trip, a trip that has generally been a struggle for the Rockies, this team could find itself in a huge hole.
Will the Rockies offense continue to hit the ball and give them a chance to win? Sustaining the amount of hits and runs that they have been putting on the scoreboard is nearly impossible. At some point they are not going to be able to carry the team.
Will the Rockies pitching turn the corner and at least be good enough to keep the offense in the game? Blowing a six-run lead is something that should happen once all season long, not two straight days.
The good news is, the Rockies offense seems good enough to gie the team a chance to win every single day, regardless of the opponent. That means that if the pitchers can figure it out, they might just be able to turn things around.
This team, as old as it is, is not built to climb out of a deep hole. They need to stay within striking distance, or they will be buried fast and not be able to recover. The upcoming trip to the west coast should tell fans if they have something to look forward to in 2012, or if they should start paying more attention to the guys in Colorado Springs, Tulsa and Modesto to see who will be around in the next few years.
It may seem early to say that, but this is a critical juncture in the 2012 Colorado Rockies season.
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