Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Colorado Rockies can't get back to Coors Field soon enough after lousy road trip

Walt Weiss needs to be in the middle of this sooner.
Don't eat that crow just yet!

The Colorado Rockies that fans know and still love finally showed back up after being MIA for the first six weeks of the season. The final three games of a seven game road trip consisted of bad at-bats, poor pitching, and altogether lethargic baseball.

Essentially, the final three games were the exact same Rockies that fans have seen over the past three years away from Coors Field.

On Wednesday afternoon, Troy Tulowitzki decided he had had enough after getting rung up on a pivotal 3-2 pitch that was well out of the zone. Umpire Dan Bellino called the inside pitch a strike, which cost the Rockies a baserunner, and a run after Carlos Gonzalez singled in the next at-bat.

Tulowitzki immediately jumped on Bellino, arguing in his typical fashion. In what has become custom, Walt Weiss apparently likes to sit in the furthest corner of the dugout, and seemingly didn't understand that his MVP candidate was in a situation where he was going to be out of the game in the 3rd inning. When Weiss finally arrived to separate Tulo and Bellino, things had escalated enough that when Tulowitzki opened his mouth for one last word when he got back to the dugout, Bellino sent him to the showers.

Weiss did a great job of arguing with Bellino after the fact. Bellino had pulled the trigger as quickly as he had made a brutal strike three call. Weiss made his point, falling short of getting his own day shortened.

The Rockies manager has taken his fair share of grief for not backing up his players. Particularly Tulowitzki, there have been at least three instances when Weiss needed to be on the field quicker, separating his star player from an ejection.

Some fans had a problem with Tulowitzki getting ejected. They shouldn't. Sometimes, when a team is lacking energy, if they are going through the motions, they need some passion injected into their game. They need a team leader, one like Tulowitzki, to show that he isn't content with going through the motions, and he isn't going to get robbed of an at-bat. The Rockies went on to lose 3-2, but the message was sent from Tulo that he wants to win.

The Rockies lost the finale of their seven-game trip and head back home with some work to do. This team came out of the gate determined to find a way to win on the road. Instead, they have faltered, going 2-5 on the latest trip, losing five of the last six. This is the same traditional style that the Rockies have played from the beginning. They hit well and win at home and look lost and out of place on the road. It is a great mystery that no one has been able to solve.

What was once the strength of this team has faltered of late. The lineup, ripe with talent, has fallen cold. It isn't their fault. At some point they had to return to earth after starting the season with unworldly numbers. As a team, the Rockies were hitting over .300 heading into Wednesday's game. That number simply isn't sustainable. A good team usually is around the .260 mark for a season.

The pitching, which was an issue swept under the rug by the hot bats, has become much more noticeable. The first couple of games were understandable for Jhoulys Chacin to struggle. He was making his debut and making sure his arm was still good to go. However, on Wednesday, Chacin was doomed by a big inning. In the 2nd inning, Chacin gave up three runs on five hits. The big hit came off the bat of Mike Moustakas, who doubled in three runs with the bases loaded.

The frustrating part of Chacin's game was not that his stuff isn't working, it is that he seems to lose focus. His talent is good enough to win games, yet he seems to continuously have one bad inning in which he can't stop the bleeding. With an offense sputtering, one big inning is all it takes. That was the case on Wednesday.

The Rockies have an ace in Jorge De La Rosa. Chacin needs to be a solid No.2 pitcher. To be that No.2 guy, he has to keep his focus in every inning that he pitches. The Rockies already have substantial holes at the back end of the rotation, they already have to endure Franklin Morales pitching every fifth day. With that in mind, Chacin has to return to form. He can't give up the big innings and hope his offense bails him out.

What the Rockies really need is to come back to Coors Field and after a day off, find a way to blast the baseball again and get things back on track.

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