|Jorge De La Rosa looked great until the 5th inning.|
If the Colorado Rockies were hoping that Opening Day would be a way to reel their fan base back in with a team fun of guys who hustle, who play with heart and demand to win, they might want a do-over. Monday night's game was sloppy. The Rockies looked like a team that had just met each other, not one that had been working together in spring training for the past six weeks.
The implosion happened in the 5th inning. To that point, Jorge De La Rosa had been brilliant. Subtract a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna and the Rockies ace was nearly perfect through four innings. He had a slider with a bite on it and was commanding his fastball. It looked to be the typical De La Rosa night that leaves opposing batters baffled.
However, in the 5th inning, it became clear very quickly that De La Rosa and catcher Wilin Rosario weren't on the same page. De La Rosa would shake off calls, then step off the rubber, then look in again. When Rosario didn't seem to find the pitch that De La Rosa wanted to throw, the lefty showed his frustration.
Three batters in and Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright decided to take stroll to the mound to talk things over. The frustration between Rosario and De La Rosa hit a boiling point and it was clear that things were not being communicated well between the two. The conversation didn't go the way that Wright had most likely anticipated, as De La Rosa said something to Rosario and motioned him back to the plate.
Two batters later, a single and a hit batsman, and De La Rosa's night was done.
With the bases loaded, Walt Weiss gave Wilton Lopez a chance to prove that 2014 would be different than 2013. The start of it looked eerily familiar. Lopez allowed all three inherited runners to score, then came back out in the 6th inning and was serving up batting practice. Three consecutive hard-hit singles put the righty reliever in an all-too-familiar position.
With Jose Fernandez on the mound for the Marlins, the game was finished.
Even the harshest of critics say the same thing. They admit that the Rockies are a very talented team. They acknowledge that there is plenty of talent in the clubhouse. The issue isn't the talent, the issue is how the talent is handled.
For Rosario and De La Rosa to not be on the same page at this point is a big issue. Rosario's defense has been a well discussed issue in the past. However, the criticism is usually for his blocking skills. What was revealed on Monday was his struggle in either calling pitches, or getting across what his plan of attack is with hitters. He has all of the physical talent to be a very good player, but a catcher's job is to keep his pitcher calm and make sure he is on the same page.
While De La Rosa probably should have handled the situation differently, the fact that Rosario hadn't been out to the mound until Jim Wright came out is telling. The frustration shouldn't have gotten to that point. Rosario should have trotted out to the mound and made sure they were on the same page.
Opening Day is a great time to read a whole lot into a very small amount of baseball. It is easy to judge a lineup, a bullpen, a whole team based on one game. The key is to realize that it is still just one game. Everything can end up completely different tomorrow and day one is forgotten about.
For the Rockies, the timing for a horrible game couldn't have been worse. Opening Day is a great time to bring fans back into the fold. It is a great time to showcase what can happen throughout the season and excite a fan base that has some serious questions about the franchise. Instead, the Rockies didn't just lose, they looked lost. They looked disorganized and didn't give any momentum to the belief that this team might be able to make a move in the NL West.
The great thing about baseball is that there usually is a game the next day to erase the bad memories of the day before. The Rockies get to go back out on Tuesday and erase Opening Day.
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