|Jordan Pacheco had a rough day.|
The Colorado Rockies are a talented group. They have a lineup that has somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 or 24 other teams in baseball jealous. Their pitching might not be deep, but they have guys who are proving they can win.
Despite being in the top three in the National League in nearly every offensive category, the Rockies still sit at just .500 after blowing a really good opportunity to sweep a Phillies team that generally has the Rockies number. Instead, the Rockies get ready for a series with the Giants after settling for a series victory.
The Rockies snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday. They held a 6-3 lead at one point and let the Phillies crawl back into the game. They spoiled a 7th inning home run from Justin Morneau and and 8th inning shot from Charlie Blackmon.
Make no mistake, winning series is the key to a successful baseball season. However, giving away winnable baseball games, regardless of what has happened so far in the series, is a recipe to finish with close to 90 losses. Good teams put away games when they have a chance and don't allow their opponent to continue to crawl back into games.
The Rockies lost on Sunday because of sloppy, bad baseball. After the Phillies had crawled back into the game, scoring two runs in the top of the 6th to make it a 6-5 Rockies lead, Jordan Pacheco came up and lined a triple to left-center field to lead off the bottom half of the frame. The rope seemed to make up for a a passed ball that was simply whiffed on the previous inning that allowed two runners to move up who eventually scored.
With Corey Dickerson pinch hitting, he grounded a ball up the middle the Jimmy Rollins snagged. Pacheco was caught in-between, not sure if the ball was going to get through. Rollins threw to the plate and got Pacheco in a rundown. While Pacheco did his best to avoid the tag, Dickerson moved up to second base. However, Pacheco was tagged out and the throw was made to second base. Dickerson was initially called safe, but replay showed his foot came off the bag. The decision was questionable, as it seemed the tag pushed his foot off. Regardless, there is no reason why Dickerson should have been standing. In that situation, the runner has to be sliding.
In the game, Brandon Barnes also overran two balls while trying to catch them, allowing runners to advance. Neither were ruled errors, but both plays were ill-advised.
The Rockies have a ton of talent. Most people who watch them will acknowledge that. They certainly could use some additional depth, but their starting lineup and their starting rotation is good enough to pick up victories. So why aren't they?
This team could be several games above .500, but they simply don't play fundamental baseball. They make mistakes that should be taken care of during spring training. Pacheco getting caught in-between home and third with no one out is simply unacceptable. There is no reason for him to stray off the bag unless he sees the ball through the infield.
Barnes allowing two balls to get behind him in right field shouldn't happen often. The hustle and effort can be appreciated, but an outfielders first job is to keep the ball in front of him.
Earlier in the week Nolan Arenado essentially struck himself out and got the Padres out of an inning when he went up free swinging when the previous batter had walked and runners were on base in front of him.
After a big series win against the Phillies, maybe the message should be that the Rockies are better than we thought they would be. However, the Rockies shouldn't be shooting for just good enough. The goal should be perfection. Holding themselves to a higher standard will help them win baseball games. The difference between winning a series and sweeping it might not seem like much in April, but what if they get shut down by the Giants this week? If they could have won on Sunday when they had a great chance, losing a series to the Giants wouldn't be a big deal. Now, to avoid a .500 home stand they have to take two-of-three from the Giants, a team they always struggle to beat.
The Rockies insist that they are a good team. Their owner has said a multitude of times that they can win 90 games. If this Rockies team is going to win 90 games, or even 81 for that matter, they have to get better at fundamentals. They have to do the little things right and they must find ways to prevent runs with their defense and scratch out runs at the plate. Until they improve their fundamentals, there is no reason to believe this team will have enough wins to be a contender in September.
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