Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Colorado Rockies fail to show up for finale in San francisco

Jeff Francis got shelled on Wednesday in San Francisco.
Welcome back to earth, Colorado Rockies fans.

After a heartbreaking loss on Tuesday night, a game in which the Rockies had a chance to build off of, the team suddenly looked much like the 2012 Colorado team that was hardly watchable. Jeff Francis looked like the guy who couldn't get a big league job a year ago, and the offense let Barry Zito continue his dominance against them.

The result was a 10-0 drubbing from the World Champions. It was an example in what a good, well-refined team can do. It was also a reminder to the Rockies and their fans of just how far away they are.

With a 5-1 start, there was no reason for anyone who cheers for the Rockies to not be excited. They were playing with a different sense of urgency. It looked like things were going to be different. The offense was so good, coupled with the starting pitchers throwing better than advertised, and a downtrodden fan base was suddenly revived with hope.

Nothing to kill momentum like a trip to AT&T Park for the Rockies.

The house that Bonds built is a house of horrors for the Rockies. As good as they can be at Coors Field, they are the complete opposite in San Francisco. Maybe it is in their heads. Maybe it is a tough place to play. Maybe it is the fact that they are playing the Giants. Whatever it is, is doesn't matter how the Rockies were playing before they arrived, they suddenly look like a little league team who is completely over matched.

For the Rockies, Tuesday night may have been a turning point. It was the first true sign of adversity that they have faced in the young 2013 season. They were well on their way to victory, only to have the Giants crawl back into it and embarrass them. On Wednesday afternoon the Rockies initial response to that adversity was not good. They failed to show up for the finale.

Is it time to go back to focusing on the Broncos? Are the Rockies done? The answer isn't yes, but it isn't no either. This team is very talented. They are a better team than most experts have given them credit for. They are better than most fans gave them credit for in the offseason. The Rockies are a talented team. With that in mind, they still have gigantic issues. There are still plenty of question marks, specifically within the starting rotation.

The talk throughout spring training was about the struggles of Jhoulys Chacin and the successes of Francis. The concern was that Chacin would be the next Ubaldo Jimenez, and that he was falling apart right before everyone's eyes. However, there were no question marks surrounding Francis. After all, he stabilized a struggling rotation in June of 2012, and was a savvy enough pitcher to be someone Rockies fans didn't need to worry about.

The reality is, of all five starting pitchers, Francis is going to provide the biggest roller coaster ride. Make no mistake, he knows how to pitch. He knows how to get the job done. He is as savvy of a pitcher as there is. That fact will keep him in many games throughout the season. The problem is, his stuff isn't anywhere close to what it was in 2007 when he won 17 games and led the Rockies to the World Series. His fastball sits in the mid-80's. That is good enough to get the job done in the big leagues, however, it doesn't provide much room for error. If Francis isn't exceptionally sharp on any given day, the game could easily end up much like Wednesday's game was for the Rockies.

Francis will also have games in which he looks like the Francis of old, breaking bats with his change up, inducing ground balls with his fastball and getting hitters way out in front with his slider. However, to be successful, the Canadian lefty is going to have to have far more good days than bad.

There is still plenty to be excited about for Rockies fans. This team got swept by the World Champions. The reality is, they were supposed to lose two-out-of-three, so getting swept isn't the worst thing ever. However, the next test to see if this team is getting better is how they react to a bad three game series. If they go into San Diego and play flat, they still have a ways to go. If they can wash the three game set away and play like they did throughout the first six games, they will have taken a huge step forward.

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