|Despite a poor 5th inning, Friedrich gave reason to be hopeful.|
That was the case on Thursday in St. Louis, as the Rockies dropped their 51st game of the season 6-2, dropping 3-of-4 to the defending World Champions.
There were a few compelling reasons to watch. First, rookie lefty Christian Friedrich was on the mound for the Rockies. Despite an ERA that sits just below six, he has been one of the bright spots for the Rockies in a season full of darkness. He has been shelled a few times, but extremely dominant other times. His stuff is one of the few things that gives a glimmer of hope.
Once again, Friedrich looked like a pitcher getting comfortable at the big league level. He pitched four strong innings before unraveling in the 5th. Even in an inning where he gave up five runs, he had a moment where he looked as if he is growing up. After a base hit and two walks, the second coming to Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn, who was trying to sacrifice bunt, Friedrich was in a jam. The bases were loaded with no one out and the top of the lineup coming up.
Friedrich stood his ground. He was able to get Rafael Furcal to wave at an offspeed pitch, collecting a huge strikeout. The lefty was a ground ball away from getting out of the inning unscathed. After working a full count, Jon Jay took ball four, and a run was forced in. Matt Holliday then did what he is paid to do, lining a slider into left field to score another run and Friedrich's night was over.
Tyler Chatwood came in and allowed two more runs to score before getting Yadier Molina to hit into a double play.
The line for Friedrich ended ugly. However, the night wasn't as bad as the numbers say. He really was a couple of pitches away from getting out of the jam and heading back to the dugout with a solid outing under his belt.
Of course, Friedrich didn't make those pitches, he didn't get the outs. He walked three batters in the inning and was responsible for all of the runs. Ultimately, if he wants to become a dominant pitcher at the big league level, he will have to jump that hurdle. Friedrich will have to find ways to get the opposition to help him wiggle off of the hook. That is part of the maturing process, and won't happen overnight. The only problem is that while Friedrich matures, the Rockies continue to lose.
The game, with the Rockies making several mistakes, including Friedrich's poorly timed walks, highlighted the differences between a team that has a World Series ring, and a team that makes excuses.
As good as Wilin Rosario has been at the plate, his defense has suffered. Catching is difficult, especially for a rookie. However, sometimes his defense leaves fans scratching their heads. In that same 5th inning, with Holliday at third base and the infield looking to gun him out at the plate on a ground ball, Rosario didn't block the plate. In fact, he seemed to create a lane for Holliday to slide directly into the plate. The throw from Jonathan Herrera was a good one, but Holliday had a clear path to plate and never felt the pressure of having to make contact with Rosario. Instead of an out, Holliday scored another run and the Rockies continued to search.
While Friedrich is an example of a young Rockies pitcher who is growing up, Cardinals youngster, 25-year-old Lance Lynn is headed to the All-Star game. After giving up just four hits in six innings, Lynn moved his mark to 11-4 with a 3.41 ERA.
When things aren't going well for a team, it seems like every aspect of the game is failing. The Rockies stress patience, while other teams put forth expectations onto their young players, and often times those players rise to the occasion.
The Rockies hope that their prospects reach their potential, but constantly pound into young pitcher's heads that Coors Field is an impossible place to pitch. That message certainly can't help the already nervous feelings of a young pitcher trying to take the large leap into Major League success.
The Rockies don't challenge their pitchers to be better, they saddle them with pitch counts and insist that it is too difficult to throw more than 75 pitches without getting shelled. The Rockies minimize the positive impact that their young players can make by putting restrictions around them and over thinking the game.
If the Rockies want to win, they need to let the players go play baseball. They need to quit trying to find tune every last detail and trust the talent that they saw from some of these guys when they scouted them.
At this point, the Rockies are their own worst enemy. If they would quit trying to change the things that can't be changed, and find a way to use that to their advantage, they would probably be on pace to lose less than 100 games. The culture in the front office needs to change for success to be had at Coors Field.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"