|Jordan Lyles showed he was human on Saturday.|
The Colorado Rockies couldn't recover from Lyles tough night, dropping the second game of a three-game set 8-5. Lyles has been the biggest surprise for the Rockies in a season that has seen many positive surprises for the club. With that in mind, his outing on Saturday night suggests that he has earned some grace.
Coming into the night, Lyles was 5-0. His worst outing saw him give up three runs in six innings. He has been a force for the Rockies all season long. The fact that he wasn't on the Opening Day roster, only coming up when Tyler Chatwood's bum hamstring required a DL stint makes the beginning of Lyles season that much more impressive.
After looking like a superhero in the early going, Lyles start on Saturday showed that he is in fact, human. He gave up six runs on five hits in just 3-1/3 innings. It was clear that he wasn't going to be as good as he has been when he walked the second and third batter that he faced on the night. In all, Lyles walked six Padres, something that he hasn't had an issue with all season long.
The Rockies offense did everything that they could to get things going and try and eliminate the deficit. The only issue was that every time they had something cooking, the ground ball double play erased their chances. That happened to them on five occasions on Saturday night, with five different Rockies hitting into the double plays.
Troy Tulowitzki stayed hot at Coors Field, blasting a towering shot to left field in the 1st inning. The home run was the first of three hits for Tulo on the night, which raised his batting average to a paltry .400. With a bat like Tulowitzki has been able to maintain for the first six weeks, right now, Tulowitzki stands alone as the front runner for National League MVP.
After starting out so hot, the Rockies have struggled to get things going. The past week has been a struggle, and the momentum that the club was playing with in the early going is nowhere to be found. It certainly isn't panic time for the Rockies, who are playing far above their expectations to this point. However, this is a common story from the club. The past two seasons have seen the team exceed expectations, only to fold and come back to reality in May.
With the recent struggles, it is easy for fans to start to question whether this team is falling into their old patterns once again. When the Rockies were making playoff runs in 2007 and 2009, they started horrible and recovered. April in both years saw the Rockies looking like one of the worst teams in the game. It took historic runs in both seasons to get them into the postseason.
In recent years, the script has been flipped. The Rockies start out hot, then cool in May and get put on ice when the heat of summer roles into Denver.
The formula to fix that issue isn't an easy one to find. It might simply be about having more talent than they have had in the past. The 2014 version of the Rockies is certainly more talented than the Rockies have been in recent years. The other solution might simply be keeping their cornerstone players healthy. If Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay strong throughout the season, this team may be able to weather the storms of a few struggling weeks that every baseball team will face.
The good news for the Rockies is that Gonzalez has yet to play the way he is capable of playing. Even with a 12-game hitting streak to his record in 2014, he hasn't looked the same at the plate. He is way out in front of pitches and hasn't been the hitter that the Rockies know he can be. That is good news because a player like CarGo will eventually figure it out. When he does, he may be able to fill the gaps that are left behind when other players start to cool off.
Hope isn't lost for the Rockies because of their recent struggles. This is something that they have to battle through. To a certain degree, it is about changing the mindset for this franchise. This is about not folding as they have in recent years when the bumps in the road came, and instead finding a way to grind through it and get better.
The Rockies have to prove that their surprising April and early May wasn't just a fluke. They have to figure out how to get the momentum back now that it has been lost. They have to figure out how to win tight games and regain what has been lost before things start to spiral out of control like they have in years past.
Washing away Saturday night is a key for this team. Forgetting about Lyles bad outing and going out and winning on Sunday is a key for them, especially with the first-place Giants coming to town on Tuesday.
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