|It isn't Jonathan Herrera's fault that the Rockies lost.|
While Herrera has had a very good year for the Rockies and plays the role that he has been given very well, he is frankly, not the guy anyone wants to see stroll to the plate with a chance to tie the game.
Herrera promptly hit into a double play, ending the late Rockies threat and giving the Marlins the 5-3 victory. As mentioned, Herrera has been very good in the role the club has asked him to play, but the situation he was in on Thursday is a no-brainer, pinch-hit situation where a guy with a big bat who can tie the game comes to the plate.
The problem is, that guy doesn't exist for the Rockies. Even with Todd Helton on the bench, the Rockies don't possess a serious power threat on their bench. So instead, they have to hope Herrera can get a base hit and keep the inning going.
The problem for the Rockies goes beyond their lack of power available on the bench. Frankly, the Rockies problems exist in every aspect of the game beyond their starting pitchers. The latest problem, which has been evident for a while, but easy to ignore, is the issue of field management.
On Thursday, with the Rockies down 1-0, Walt Weiss turned to Wilton Lopez for the 9th inning. The reliever proceeded to do what he has done all season long, give up runs. In this instant, he gave up four runs while recording just one out. The pitcher known for producing ground balls has somehow managed to forget how to get outs in any way, but when he does get them, they come via the flyball. His acquisition has been a complete disaster.
Every team has relievers that are plus-side relievers and relievers that come in when the team is losing. Lopez hasn't been good enough to be on the plus-side, but that doesn't mean that he should be trusted in a one-run game in which the Rockies desperately need a win. His four runs effectively pitched the Rockies out of the game. When the dormant offense scored three in the bottom half of the inning, it really hurt.
A manager can't rely on the same guys in the bullpen every night or the team will be in trouble. However, there are times that when a team doesn't have a lead, but is tied or down by a run in a big game that the manager has to use his plus-side guys. Sending Lopez to the mound in the 9th was waiving the white flag. Not only on the game, but on the season as well.
Beyond Lopez, sloppy baseball came back and cost the Rockies again. With runners at first and third base with two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Adam Ottavino threw a slider in the dirt. Instead of using the mechanics that are taught starting at the age of seven years old to block the ball, catcher Wilin Rosario tried to backhand it. A catcher knows that he should never, ever backhand a baseball. It is simply lazy baseball on Rosario's part to not get in front of that pitch. It ended up costing the Rockies a run, the first run of the game.
There are plenty of places to point to blame for the Rockies loss on Thursday. However, once again, the blame falls on the shoulders of a hapless, incompetent offense. A team that was built to resemble the Blake Street Bombers once again failed to score a run through the first eight innings. This has gone from a trend to an issue, to something that has become almost expected.
It is almost laughable that the Rockies thought this lineup would be the strong suit of this team. Make no mistake, the talent is there to be dominant, but their lack of production makes the fact that people thought it would be beyond good nearly laughable. The sad part is, they could be very good. They could have this Rockies team out in front of the bunch in the National League West. Instead, they continue to take a terrible approach at the plate. They fail to make adjustments. They preparation looks to be the same as a little league team who goes up hacking at anything and everything.
In 35 innings of baseball against the league-worst Marlins, the Rockies produced a grand total of eight runs. Eight runs in four games. That is unacceptable. Someone has to be held accountable for that failure, especially considering their lack of productivity throughout the month of July, a month in which they had a chance to gain ground instead of losing ground like they have.
The Rockies have huge holes. They have huge issues, from their bullpen to their management to their defense and to the biggest issue, their non-existent offense. This homestand was set to be a statement homestand. The statement the Rockies have made is that they aren't ready to be taken seriously yet.
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