Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inability to hit in clutch situations leaves Colorado Rockies in a familiar situation on the road

Jordan Pacheco had a rough night on Wednesday.
The Colorado Rockies can't win on the road. Also, water is wet.

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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  1. Despite some early key hits we need which will come. I really like and am thankful that our ownership doesn't listen to its ridiculous fan base. We have the best talent in the minors in all of the MLB and we will be bringing it up soon and show the world what great ownership we have in place. The Monforts will bring a world champion to Denver this year I have no doubt. We are lucky to have great leadership on the field and in the head offices. soon we will just pound the ball.

    1. ^ I want what you are smoking. This ownership has been talking the talk for 22 seasons now. I am more than happy to eat crow, but the Rockies have a lengthy track record of failed prospects, below average pitching, and losing records. We can't play well in CA and 3/4 of the division plays there. Just saying we are further from a championship in Denver than we are closer.

    2. Well said. It's an overall organizational mindset. There is no urgency to win. Losing is acceptable as long as improvement is made. There is no attention to detail and no accountability. There is no leadership. They are a team that wins around 70 games a year and turns a profit. They have found their medium within Major League Baseball and they are fine with it. I'm not fine with it. I'm embarrassed by it. I can't watch the Rockies any more without feeling angry, jaded, or hoping they hit rock bottom. Fans need to send a message and I think the only way enough fans will do that is if this thing completely blows up. I'm a player guy first so I don't wish ill will on the players, but for the greater good I hope things get BAD so ownership has egg on their face.

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  3. What is the identity of the Rockies? What do they do well that they are known for? Is there a single thing that everyone agrees on? I think the Rockies are known as the team that plays at Coors field - altitude. Sure they score a lot of runs -- at home. They hit a lot of home runs. Their pitching staff is mediocre at best. Those are a few things people think when they think of the Rockies.

    What has been done to change these perceptions? How batters in the lineup are known for taking good at bats, for having a good approach at the plate? Who goes into the batters box with a plan, other than to hit the ball a mile? Cuddyer, without question. Tulo? No. Cargo? No. Rosario? No.

    Which pitcher has worked to be more efficient with his pitches, to not have thrown 30 pitches by the second inning and be out by the 5th? Is the goal to just get through the 5th in order to be eligible for a win? I know the view on pitching has changed but c'mon, be more competitive. If the organization says you are shut down at 100 pitches, why not try to reach pitch 100 in the 7th or 8th inning? That's keeping your pitches to 12-15 an inning. Year after year it is the same old thing, with new players, a new slogan, and the same old BS from ownership repackaged in bright new wrapping paper. The Rockies need more guys that play the game the right way and less guys thinking about a 450 foot homerun or pitching just enough to maybe get a win. With fans like the first poster on their side, the organization knows the urgency to do this is still to come. More fans need to demand more of this organization.

  4. The bottom line for this entire West Coast trip is the lack of production from the heart of the order...specifically Cuddy, Cargo and Tulo. Yesterday alone they left 7 guys on base.

    Sure Pacheco stands out for the double play ball but we need better production from these guys on the road in order to succeed.

    Overall, the pitching has been good enough to win games other than Brothers lowlights in 2 spots. I feel if they stopped looking for the HR on every pitch on these CA trips maybe they could string some quality AB's together.

  5. Dave nice blog and great writing by the way. I am astonished and amazed by the ignorance of this teams fan base. What team are they watching? This team is right on the cusp of a hit here and there of excellence. It is clear to me as a baseball officianado that this team takes over the division by May and puts everybody in the rear view mirror and runs away and hides in this division.

  6. Edgar, you are an optimist. It sounds as though you support this team through thick and thin. I hope you are right but I just don't see what you are saying happening. There is no depth on this team. WHEN injuries happen you'll see the same thing this year you've seen in years past. Maybe the past 20 years have made me a doubter. I don't see anything that suggests the Rockies run away with the division. I'm pretty sure the Dodgers are the team that will have this division wrapped up. The Rockies are then left competing with the best of the NL East-Washington or Atlanta, the best of the NL Central- Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and the rest of the NL West. No playoffs again this year.

    There are several guys that are promising but the Rockies are who they are. I hope you are right Edgar, but I really don't see that much difference from the Rockies this year compared to last year. Even the worst teams win 65 - 70 games a year. Getting above .500 would be an accomplishment this year in my opinion.