|Rex Brothers' struggles continued on Wednesday.|
Despite the final pitch of the month being a Miguel Montero walk-off home run to send the Rockies home with a loss, the month overall was very good to the club. What looked like a sweep ended in disappointment. The Rockies blew a four-run lead and, for the fourth time in a row, missed a chance to sweep a series.
The bullpen showed it's holes on Wednesday night, as Rex Brothers' struggles continued. His inability to put back-to-back good outings together is starting to become troubling. His velocity is down, and because of that, he seems to be aiming his pitches. Tommy Kahnle, who has been excellent all through spring training and in his time with the big league club, gave up the game winner to Montero.
The struggles of Brothers and Matt Belisle cannot be ignored. The Rockies have no options in the minors that could provide depth, so they are going to have to rely on those two guys to figure it out. Brothers shows flashes of being the pitcher that was nearly an All-Star a year ago, but Belisle, frankly, looks done.
Going into the six-game road trip, there isn't a fan who wouldn't be thrilled with a 4-2 trip. Both locations, Los Angeles and Arizona, have been terribly difficult places for the Rockies to play, so for them to come home at 4-2 is a huge accomplishment. However, in a baseball season, there is no such thing as a moral victory. A team that is serious about contending for the playoffs has to win baseball games that are winnable. It doesn't matter what the history in a location has been, they can't let teams off the hook when they have a victory in hand.
The Rockies are 8-9 on the road so far in 2014. Compared to how they have played over the past years on the road, 8-9 feels like 16-1. They don't seem intimidated. They don't seem like they are pressing at the plate. They look comfortable. If they are able to establish themselves as a team that can win on the road, that will remove much of the pressure from them when they play at Coors Field. They won't feel like they have to win every single home game in order to get their heads above water.
Beyond the issues with the bullpen, the Rockies also must continue getting better at the little things. They have to find a way to play better fundamental baseball. Despite being the hero on Tuesday night, Drew Stubbs became the goat on Wednesday.
After a leadoff double in the 10th inning from Corey Dickerson, the Rockies were looking like they might be able to put up a run and steal another game in the desert. With no one out and a runner at second base, Charlie Blackmon came to the plate and put down a good sacrifice bunt, moving Dickerson to third base with one out.
The Rockies had two chance to either hit a fly ball or get a base hit to score the run. Essentially, Stubbs needed to get the ball in play. With a drawn in infield, he would be able to score a run unless he hit it hard right at someone. The worst thing he could do was strikeout. After three pitches he was on his way back to the dugout.
No team, even the team that wins the World Series, is going to have a perfect record when it comes to moving runners over and getting them in. However, the Rockies lack of fundamentals has been very clear over the past month. They are a much improved team from a year ago, but they need to take the next step and get to the point where hitting a sacrifice fly is so easy that they don't have to think about it.
The Rockies and their fans will certainly take a 16-13 first month of the season. That is a very good way to show that they aren't the same team that lost 88 games a year ago. However, they still have work to do. They still have holes to fill and they need to continue to push to get better. This team is talented. If they do the little things right, they might just surprise some people. However, they can't be content with simply being a better team than a year ago. They must push themselves to continue getting better.
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