Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bullpen falters as Colorado Rockies miss a chance to sweep Diamondbacks

Wilton Lopez continued his disappointing season on Sunday.
The stage was set for the perfect ending possible on Sunday for the Colorado Rockies. Eric Young, Jr. was at the plate with the tying run at third base and the winning run at first base. With the Rockies giving away Eric Young, Sr. bobbleheads, and having Young, Sr. throw out the first pitch, it almost seemed like it was meant to be.

However, the perfect story line wasn't meant to be. EY, Jr. grounded out harmlessly to J.J. Putz, the Diamondbacks closer, to end the game with the Rockies losing 5-4.

Despite the Rockies taking two of three in the series, they played with fire in all three games and finally got burned on Sunday.

Rafael Betancourt wiggled off the hook on Saturday night, and the offense barely showed up on Friday night, but in both contests, the Rockies prevailed. On Sunday, the Rockies bullpen gave away a four run advantage, starting with Matt Belisle giving up a rare run in the 8th inning, then Wilton Lopez came in to blow the game in the 9th.

Lopez was pitching because Betancourt had thrown in three straight games and was given the day off before the game.

The loss was a heartbreaker for the Rockies. They had the game in their control and a chance to sweep a series from within their division.

The Sunday loss shouldn't dishearten Rockies fans. This is a team that is was predicted to be historically bad, with pitching that would set records for futility. Through 17 games, however, they stand at 12-5, and they are an impressive 8-1 at home. Sunday's game may be a disappointment, but with the bigger picture in mind, ask a Rockies fan on March 31st if they would be happy with 12-5 on April 21st and there isn't a single fan that wouldn't have been thrilled with those results.

It has been an interesting early-going for the Rockies. They have been playing so well, their starting pitching included, that they have brought some excitement back. However, there is a strange feeling that is different than any other hot Rockies start. This year, there is a certain level of hesitation among fans that feels like they want to believe, but don't want to set themselves up for disappointment. As the wins stack up, the skepticism doesn't seem to shrink, it seems to grow. Fans seem to know that the more hopeful they become, the harder the crash might be when the Rockies come back to earth.

There is no doubt that despite a team full of many of the same names as the 2012 team that was an all-out embarrassment, this team is different. They play harder, there is more of a sense of urgency, they are playing far less selfishly and seem to be enjoying taking the field more.

That attitude and that effort has brought the Rockies early success. If they want to continue winning, they must keep the swagger that they seem to be playing with. Even on Sunday, after a blown four run lead, there was a feeling that the club was going to put up a fight. They didn't get the job done, but they went down swinging.

The next step for the Rockies is to come back from the first heart breaker at home and play bounce back to the level they have played with throughout April. The Rockies face a tough opponent in the new week as baseball's best early team, the Atlanta Braves come to town. If the Rockies can come out fighting, they could make a giant statement to the rest of the league.

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  1. Lopez is responsible for 40% of our losses, while still optimistic he can be an asset to us, my hopes are fading.

    On the plus side of the pitching mound is our starters are 11 of 18 for quality starts. I don't think there is anyone that would have predicted that!

    1. ScoMan-
      Great comment. Lopez has been a huge disappointment, and frankly, today's decision to use him in the 9th was very questionable with a rested Rex Brothers available.

      I believe that Lopez will turn the corner. He has a ton of talent. However, he had zero movement on his pitches today. It will be interesting to see if he is able to bounce back after this rough outing.

    2. Craig S. Chises Rifle, Co.April 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      ScoMan and David,
      The 40 percent comment came right out of my head yesterday. Opening day and yesterday, Lopez drops the ball, so to speak. We should have only 3 losses. Oh well. We could be the Cubs!

      Regarding the "cautiously optimistic" comment, as someone who was at MH for opening day, and Coors (both) and All-Star, World Series etc and numerous others, the difference to me is the journey men in the dugout. Watch Vinnie and Dante interact with the players. If Walt can stop looking over lineup cards and go with his gut, we have a great season ahead!

  2. I am thrilled with the overall results so far but belong to the group of fans you describe who are "cautiously optimistic". Some of the fire seems to be missing and we now have Todd Helton's first injury and our opening day pitcher on the disabled list. All too familiar situations I'm afraid. I think the team we see in the next 3 days might just give us an indication of what is to come.