Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Colorado Rockies hit a new low for 2013 with home loss to Astros

Tyler Chatwood was phenomenal.
The Colorado Rockies have hit a new low.

The positive can only be pointed out for so long.

There is no way to be positive after the Colorado Rockies pathetically inept offensive production since Sunday. On Wednesday night, the Rockies lost to the Astros for the second time in three days, going down 6-3.

The Astros might be the worst team in the last 20 years in Major League Baseball. They aren't even trying to win. After an ownership change, the club scrapped their high paid players and went with a youth movement. How young and inexperienced are the Astros? The New York Yankees have 11 players on their 40-man roster who make more money themselves than the entire Astros 25-man roster.

Baseball is a strange game. Even good teams will lose to bad teams. A pitcher will have a bad outing, or a bad team will get hot and win a few games in a row. That would be a great if the Rockies could use one of those excuses. Unfortunately for the guys in purple pinstripes, the two losses to the Astros have included none of those options.

In three games, one of which went 12 innings, the Rockies have scored a grand total of five runs against the worst team in baseball. The Astros pitching staff is the not-so-proud owners of the worst team ERA in baseball. The Rockies have made them look like Sandy Koufax.

The loss almost feels worse because it was the latest example of the Rockies offense blowing a phenomenal start by their starting pitcher. Tyler Chatwood has been extremely impressive in his return to the big leagues. If there is a glimmer of excitement that comes from Wednesday night's game, it is the fact that Chatwood has shown that he has no business being shipped back to the minor leagues. The strides that he has made since his Rockies debut in 2012 are far better than anyone could have expected.

His mid-90's fastball couples extremely well with a slider that breaks like few sliders break at Coors Field. Apparently Chatwood doesn't have a problem with his slider moving at altitude.

Sometimes there is a silver lining when an offense doesn't produce, but a starting pitcher pitches well. In this situation for the Rockies, it is more frustrating. This is a team that was highly touted for having a phenomenal offense that would score runs, especially at Coors Field. The reason that no one thought the Rockies would have any success was because their starting pitchers were supposed to be so bad.

The reality is, the starting pitchers have performed so much better than anyone could have expected. So when a bad team comes in and dominates the supposedly potent offense of the Rockies, it seems like such a wasted opportunity. It makes a fan start to play the what-if game. What if the Rockies offense was producing the way they are capable of? This team would be several games ahead of the pack in the National League West. In fact, the way the Rockies starting pitchers have been pitching, the Rockies should be well on their way to their first division championship.

Bad teams beat good teams all the time. It is the nature of baseball. The issue for the Rockies is that they aren't getting beat by the Astros, they simply aren't showing up at the plate. On Wednesday night, the only offense came off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki, who hit two home runs and added an RBI double.

Wednesday kicked off a stretch of 15-out-of-18 games at Coors Field. If they are going to contend, they must establish Coors Field as a place where they are going to dominate. They must be a team that is scrappy at home and tough to beat. They have to be a team that constantly fights for runs, despite the number of runs the opponent has scored. When the Rockies start the stretch like Wednesday's start, it doesn't set the tone that they need to set.

It is especially difficult for Rockies fans to stomach. Most fans are still somewhat jaded by a terrible year in 2012. The feeling among fans is that at some point, the other shoe is going to drop. The feeling is that something has to give. This Rockies team simply can't be as good as they have played through the first 50 games. Games like Wednesdays, and three game stretches like the Rockies are in the midst of now, make the skeptical Rockies fan return and believe that the positives that were showing in April were simply a fluke and that the really bad Rockies team that was a mess in 2012 has returned.

The Rockies can make things go from bad to worse on Thursday if they don't find a way to beat the Astros in the finale. The Rockies lost 98 games a year ago, but they are a significantly more talented team than Houston. They have no excuse to lose a four-game series to this team. Salvaging a split in the home and home series will at least make things a little easier to swallow.

Thursday night could be a turning point for this team. If the offense doesn't show up once again, the Rockies have shown their colors. If they can't beat the Astros, they aren't contenders. They still have work to do.

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