|Michael Cuddyer plays the game the right way.|
Michael Cuddyer's second home run of the night came in the 9th inning off of Giants closer Sergio Romo. The home run ended a see-saw battle between the Colorado Rockies and the Giants after the home team built a 6-0 lead, then saw the Rockies creep back into the game, taking a lead of 8-6.
The Rockies lead looked solid until manager Walt Weiss, and whoever above him who actually makes decisions, called on Wilton Lopez to pitch the 8th inning for the Rockies. At this point in the season, there is no one within the Rockies organization that could say with a straight face that they believed that Lopez would get the job done.
Lopez, the Rockies lone Major League offseason addition, has been brutal for the Rockies. Besides two good stretches, the right-handed sinkerballer has left way too many pitches up. The ball isn't moving where Lopez wants it to go and the opposition can nearly be seen visibly drooling at the chance to swing the bat against him.
When had runners at second and third base with no one out, there wasn't anyone who was surprised. Suddenly, the lead the Rockies offense had worked so hard to get, a run total that is more than the team usually scores in a whole three game series in San Francisco, was gone.
The momentum had shifted, and it seemed inevitable that the Rockies were going to lose their second straight game against the Giants, and their sixth straight game overall.
Instead, Cuddyer came to the plate and belted a Sergio Romo pitch deep into the bleachers in left-center field, giving the Rockies the lead back one final time. It was Cuddyer's 20th home run of the season.
While the Rockies are clearly waving the white flag by continuing to run Wilton Lopez to the mound seemingly everyday, Cuddyer hasn't stopped playing the game the only way that he knows how...hard.
It would be easy to point out that Cuddyer is the last guy on the Rockies who should quit because he actually has something to play for. The right fielder is within five points of the National League lead in hitting. With a batting title on the line, Cuddyer probably won't shut it down.
That theory might work for some players, however, not Cuddyer. If he were hitting .205 he would still be playing hard. Evidence of that came in the top of the 4th inning. Cuddyer led off the inning with a single, then was erased on a ground ball double play from Wilin Rosario. The ball was a tailor-made double play, most veterans of Cuddyer's stature wouldn't really hustle to second base, let alone put a great slide in to try and break up the double play.
Not Cuddyer, the hard-nosed player took a hard slide into Marco Scutaro, knocking him to the ground as he completed the throw. Rosario was out by 10 steps, but it wasn't because Cuddyer wasn't hustling.
The Rockies could use another Cuddyer or two in the offseason. This is a team that is the definition of out of the race. They haven't played a meaningful game since 10 days after the All-Star Break. They have been playing out the string for nearly two full months at this point, yet Cuddyer continues to play the game like it's the seventh game of the World Series.
Down 6-0, the Rockies tied their season high for largest come-from-behind victory. It was the largest road comeback all season long.
Regardless of how the season has gone for the Rockies, coming back from six runs down in San Francisco, a place where the Rockies are lucky to score six runs total in an entire three game series, is impressive. As soon as this team looks like they have quit, they show signs that they are still playing hard. It shows character when the team doesn't fold. In 2012, the bats would have been back in the bat rack and the Rockies would have been thinking about their hotel rooms.
Of course, the Rockies cannot simply quit using guys who they have in their bullpen. However, is it really necessary to continue to use Lopez in high leverage situations? It is mind baffling that Lopez continues to be used in situations where the game is on the line.
Lopez has shown who he is. He has shown himself to be a mistake. This is the main reason why the Rockies should be using some of their younger guys, or guys like Michell Boggs, in these high leverage situations. This month should be one of evaluation. See if a guy like Rob Scahill can deliver when it is tough.
The Rockies players haven't waved the white flag, that was clear on Tuesday. However, it isn't clear that the Rockies management is in the same boat.
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