|Drew Pomeranz looks scared to death on the mound for the Rockies.|
On Monday, the Rockies scored one run against Tom Koehler, whose seven strong innings helped lower his ERA to 4.38 and improve his record to 2-5. The outing helped give the Marlins their 13th road win of the entire season.
One run. One solo home run off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki was all that the club who claims to have as good of lineup as anyone in the game could muster off of yet another hapless, mediocre starting pitcher.
The names on the uniforms change, but the story stays the same. It doesn't matter who is batting, or who is coaching those batters, the pattern for the Rockies offensive approach has been the same since the 2009 run to the playoffs.
For an example of the type of approach that the Rockies took at the plate all night long, and frankly, the same approach that they have been taking for the last six weeks, can be seen in Wilin Rosario's 0-for-4 night at the plate.
At-bat No.1- four pitch strikeout, all four pitches, strike two and strike three came on off-speed pitches well off of the plate, but waived at.
At-bat No. 2- ground out on the second pitch of the at-bat with a runner in scoring position and one out.
At-bat No. 3- Strikeout on a 1-2 count, swinging at an off-speed pitch well out of the strike zone.
At-bat No. 4- Strikeout number three, this time in the 9th inning, on three off-speed pitches, all well out of the zone.
Rosario's line makes him easy to pick on. However, the reality is, he is just one of many examples that could be used to describe the Rockies terrible approach at the plate.
The Rockies are like the guy at the park, or at the gym who picks up a basketball and shoots lights out. When the pickup games start, he runs the court. However, put him in an organized league, with a offense that has to be run and a defense that learns how to shut him down, and suddenly the guy who ruled the court during garbage time can't play.
In the 4th inning, after Tulowitzki led off with a home run, Michael Cuddyer followed that with a double. Against a team like the Marlins, with a runner at second base and no one out, that run should score. A team within striking distance and trying to convince their fans, and apparently themselves, that they are contenders, has to find a way to score a run like that against a terrible team. Instead, Todd Helton struck out, Rosario bounced out and Nolan Arenado flied out, ending the threat and leaving the team two runs down.
It is pure speculation, but it could be surmised that, after years of the same type of approach, after teams that start well, then crumble in the heat of the summer, that something is wrong with the message being preached in the clubhouse.
This team is talented. This team, frankly, has the most talent in the National League West. The Dodgers spent a boatload of money, but still have holes at third base and in the bullpen. The Diamondbacks rotation is atrocious beyond Patrick Corbin. The Rockies have three top-flight pitchers and a lineup that was once something they bragged about.
So what is wrong? The same thing that has gone wrong for several years. The Rockies lack a winning mindset. When things start going bad, they don't get stronger. They don't fight through the difficulties. When things go wrong, this team folds. They give in. They don't believe that they should win.
Instead of digging deep, something a team with character does, they make excuses. They tip their cap to the other guys and hope for an easier road to victory the next night.
That attitude is unacceptable in places with winning traditions. However, at 20th & Blake it seems to be the prevailing attitude from top to bottom. Listen to an interview with Dan O'Dowd during the 2012 season and it is clear, the team wasn't winning because guys were injured, not because he hadn't built a team with enough depth to even somewhat fill gaps when guys went down.
That type of attitude doesn't breed winning. It breeds selfish baseball where players care more about their own numbers rather than the wins and losses. When batters are worried about their own stats, they take selfish at-bats. They don't move runners over, they don't work counts, they swing at the first pitch that they think they can drive.
That might be harsh criticism, but other conclusions are hard to come to when a team like the Rockies has scored a total of 13 runs in their last four games and 32 runs in their past 14 games.
With the offense a disaster, Pomeranz didn't help his cause. Watching the lefty pitch is stressful. Nothing about him screams first round draft pick. His mechanics are loose, he doesn't attack the strike zone, and he looks like a little league outfielder who has been begging to pitch, so the coach lets him in the game, just to keep his mouth shut.
Are the Rockies in his head? Have they messed with his mechanics so much that he is lost? Regardless of who is to blame, Pomeranz's career is teetering on the edge. If he wants to be thought of as a top-tier starter, he has to quit thinking and start pitching. He has to decide that he isn't going to worry about each baserunner and each batter, that he is just going to throw the ball and let his talent take over.
However, if Pomeranz wants to pout and find excuses for his struggles, he probably is in the right organization. He certainly won't be alone.
If the Rockies want to be serious contenders, they have to get tough. They have to decide to be the better team and start playing baseball with heart and determination. That attitude hasn't shown up since May.
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