|Eric Young, Jr. isn't going to be easy to forget for many fans.|
The Colorado Rockies got owned by the Triple-A call-up on Wednesday night at Coors Field. The former Pittsburgh Pirate and former San Diego Padre gave up just two hits in six innings of work in his first big league start of the season. He went six innings, giving up only one run and paved the way for the Nationals to even out the series.
The offense couldn't figure out Ohlendorf's slider, which at times was very slow and very big. He kept the Rockies off balance and forced them to get under pitches, missing the sweet spot of the bat.
Where Ohlendorf was sharp, Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa wasn't. The Rockies lefty was shaky at best. He couldn't stay consistent in the strike zone, and while he didn't give up a ton of runs, he lulled the game to sleep with his deep counts. After getting into trouble in the 6th inning, Walt Weiss took the ball from him with one out. He ended up giving up three runs on five hits. That isn't a terrible outing, but simply said, De La Rosa didn't have his best command. In 96 total pitches, only 54 found the strike zone.
Give credit to Ohlendorf, however, the Rockies have a good enough offense that they never should let something like that happen at Coors Field. This is a team that needs to make coming in to their home park something that no one wants to do. They need to make Coors Field a place that is viewed similarly to AT&T Park in San Francisco, a place where the opposition knows that the home team will never relent.
On Wednesday, the Rockies simply didn't show up. Ohlendorf had just 41 pitches through three full innings. He wasn't being forced to pitch deep into counts. The Rockies game plan seemed to be to swing at the first pitch in the strike zone and make something good happen. The problem is that Ohlendorf was getting just enough movement to get balls to come off of the end of the Rockies bats.
In the end, the Rockies didn't stand much of a chance on Wednesday. They simply had one of those nights that happen in baseball where the starting pitching isn't great and the offense doesn't show up. It happens. The key is to not let it happen very frequently.
Before the game, the Rockies made a tough decision that frankly, was necessary. Eric Young, Jr., the son of a Rockies legend and a popular player in his own right, was designated for assignment. What that means is that because he is out of options, the Rockies can no longer simply send him back to Triple-A without allowing other teams to pick him up on waivers. With his speed, another team is almost certain to pick him up.
The move is a tough one. The fan base in Colorado is unique. In many sports cities, especially cities with four major sports franchises like Denver, fans care about nothing more than winning. If trading a fan favorite means getting closer to a championship, then that is what needs to happen. In Denver, that simply isn't the case. Fans fall in love with players more than they love the team. The fan base in Colorado would prefer to lose with the guys that they love rather than to win with players who aren't their favorites.
However, what is difficult for fans to understand is that to go from a team that loses 98 games, to a team that is respectable and actually has a chance to contend, there are growing pains. A team doesn't simply make that jump without having to make major changes to their roster. To be a contender, the best 25 available players must be on the roster at the same time.
On Tuesday night, Tyler Colvin did enough to convince the Rockies that he was the fourth outfielder that they needed. He hits for power and gives them a left-handed option off of the bench. With Young struggling at the plate, particularly in a pinch-hitting role, the Rockies had to make a tough choice.
Young is a guy who has endeared himself to fans. His interaction with them on Twitter, as well as his work ethic that no one has ever questioned, has given fans plenty of reasons to be upset that he won't be wearing purple pinstripes again. His Twitter hash tag, Refuse To Be Ignored, became a staple of who he is.
The biggest reason why so many fans fell in love with EY, Jr. was due to his community involvement. Young would often make trips to Children's Hospital and read books to kids who were sick. No one required that of him. A guy like that is someone who should be celebrated. He was a great representative for the Rockies.
However, winning baseball games is the reason why EY was in a Rockies uniform. When he couldn't make that happen, it was time for him to be moved to a place where he can make an impact.
As much as Rockies fans are going to be disappointed to lose a great person, they should also tip their caps to Rockies ownership for making a move that needed to happen in order to make the team on the field better. It would have been easier to allow him to stay in the role that he was in and allow him to continue to struggle in the field and at the plate, while the front office turned a blind eye.
Instead, the Rockies showed that they are interested in winning and that they are committed to putting the best team possible on the field. That decision ultimately was the undoing of Young in a Rockies uniform.
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