|Juan Nicasio was terrible on Friday night.|
The message sent to fans is clear.
On Friday night, after a day off to recover from a heartbreaking loss on Wednesday night, the Rockies came out and played an identical game to what has become a recurring nightmare for the Rockies not only in 2014, but throughout their history. The story is getting old, the games are nearly unwatchable.
With the road trip hanging in the balance, things didn't look good for the Rockies. In the first two games, the club had Juan Nicasio and Franklin Morales going to the mound. It may sound unfair because both starting pitchers have had their fair share of success, but the reality is, neither pitcher inspires confidence that they are going to pitch well enough for the team to win.
On Friday, Rockies fans lack of confidence in Nicasio was justified. The righty gave up five earned runs on nine hits in 4-2/3 innings. In typical Nicasio fashion, the second time through the batting order was his undoing. His secondary pitches aren't good enough to use frequently, which allows batters to sit on his four-seem fastball. The first four innings went fairly smooth before the meat of the Indians order came up for the second time. At that point, Nicasio was tagged for four runs and couldn't get out of the 5th inning. The damage could have been worse had Charlie Blackmon not made a phenomenal catch in center field when Jesus Aguilar drilled a ball to the wall.
Of course, when the Rockies are on the road the starting pitcher can't take all of the blame. The lineup, talked about less than two weeks ago as perhaps the best in the National League and one of the best in all of baseball, predictably couldn't get anything going on the road. Besides a double by Corey Dickerson followed by a home run to Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies offense spent more time swinging and missing then actually connecting.
The Rockies notched only five hits total on the night. They looked like they were pressing once again. It looked like they understood that their season is slipping away and that they need to make something happen to avoid a complete disaster on this road trip. The problem is, when they press, they tend to make things worse.
The frustration hit a new level in the 6th inning when Michael Cuddyer was rung up to end the inning. The third strike call was out of the strike zone and frankly, there wasn't one pitch that was actually in the zone for all of Cuddyer's at-bat. Cuddyer immediately went after home plate umpire John Tumpane. His body language was enough to justify an ejection for himself, but manager Walt Weiss stepped in the way and saved Cuddyer from an early trip to the showers. Instead, he was ejected himself, earning the boot for the first time in his managerial career.
Frankly, Weiss getting tossed was a long time coming. It was well overdue. In fact, he was even a little slow to get out and get in between Cuddyer and the umpire. Third base coach Stu Cole was on the scene before Weiss. It was high time for Weiss to show some emotion and make sure one of his stars didn't get ejected.
To be an acceptable road trip, the Rockies needed to go 4-5. If they want to do that, they have to win the final two games in Cleveland. That won't be an easy task.
The Rockies now face a conundrum. Fans were calling for the promotion of Eddie Butler and Jon Gray to shore up the Rockies rotation. However, the season turned bad so quickly, it really might not make sense to start both of their arbitration clocks and perhaps lose a year of both of their service for a team that is quickly fading from contention. It might make more sense to allow them to continue to develop in the minors and make their big league debuts after the Rockies don't have to worry about the Super-2 rule costing them a year of arbitration with both pitchers.
It may not be June yet, and the Rockies may have started extremely hot. However, it is getting to the point where this team needs to get things squared away or there won't be much of a season to salvage if they don't turn things around quickly. The Giants continue to win games and eventually the Dodgers are going to play the way their talent suggests that they can.
It's hard to be positive about the Rockies. It is hard to find something to say that would suggest that they aren't the same team as 2013. This team is following the same patterns, and the mental edge that they showed in the early part of the season is nowhere to be found. If the Rockies don't figure it out quickly, the hole that they dig may be too big to climb out of. They need to steal one of the games in Cleveland before heading home. They need to build some momentum and confidence. Saturday would be a great day to make that happen.
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