|Jordan Pacheco had a rough night on Wednesday.|
The Rockies lost a 4-2 decision in San Diego on Wednesday night, dropping their record on their current seven-game road trip to 2-4. They have to salvage an early evening game on Thursday in order to come home without a predictably bad West Coast road trip.
On Wednesday night, the goat was Jordan Pacheco. The Rockies backup catcher was in the spotlight twice for the wrong things. With the game tied at one, Pacheco simply whiffed on a ball in the dirt from starter Jorge De La Rosa. With runners at first and third, De La Rosa threw a ball in the dirt with Chris Denorfia at that plate. Pacheco missed it, allowing a run to score and another runner to move into scoring position. Denorfia then smashed a double down the right field line, scoring the Padres third run.
In the top of the 6th, Pacheco had a prime opportunity to make up for his mistake. With one out, the Rockies knocked three consecutive singles to load the bases with one out. Pacheco stepped to the plate and got jammed on a 97 MPH fastball on the inside half of the plate. Instead of getting a run or two out of the situation, Pacheco had ended the threat by hitting an easy double play ball to short.
Pacheco wasn't the only one who could be blamed, an overarching issue rared it's ugly head once again. The Rockies went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They notched 10 hits overall, but couldn't get the job done when they had a chance to do some damage.
It is no secret that the Rockies struggle on the road. They have always struggled on the road. However, the dreaded West Coast road trip, whether it is the standard nine games, or seven games like the one the Rockies are in the midst of right now, seems to be the undoing of every Rockies team.
The Rockies went into San Francisco with a new mindset. They played like they felt like they could steal a couple of games, then go to San Diego and split a four-game series. However, they have quickly reverted back to the team that fans have been watching for the past several seasons. After fighting hard in San Francisco and just falling short, the Rockies mindset seemed so different, specifically on Wednesday night.
The losses in San Francisco almost seemed like wins for the Rockies because their mindset didn't look like it collapsed. The Rockies looked like a team that has the talent to compete in the National League West. However, after a disappointing blown four-run lead, the Rockies suddenly reverted back to the team that spent the second half of 2013 going through the motions.
De La Rosa was much better on the mound. He seemed more comfortable. He went six innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned, on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Something that has been surprising is the amount of criticism that De La Rosa has been subjected to over the past two weeks. While the first two starts certainly weren't great, those worried about De La Rosa returning to form are wasting their time. This is a guy who won 16 games a year ago, and he did it with a bruise on his throwing hand.
De La Rosa will return to form. He is the ace of the Rockies staff for a reason. When he is dominant, no one can touch him. For the lefty, the few struggles get magnified because they happened at the beginning of the season. With numbers built up, a starter can have two or three mediocre outings in a row, and while it will be noticed, no one worries significantly about it. When it happens at the beginning of the season, everyone freaks out about it.
The Rockies are continuing the trend of struggling so greatly on the road that the team nearly goes through the motions. They only seem excited about returning to Coors Field where they can pick up where they left off. If the Rockies want to turn the page on their years of struggles, they absolutely must find a way to avoid the mental defeats on the road.
Thursday's early evening game gives the Rockies a chance to put themselves in a decent spot before they head home. A 3-4 road trip is much better than 2-5. It will be up to Franklin Morales to get the job done as he takes on Ian Kennedy.
A Rockies loss would feel like it is simply more of the same. The Rockies must convince their fan base that the level of expectation is about being as good as they can be. They must find a way to win on the road. If they don't, the expectations of where they will finish will look very similar to what they have been for several years.
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