|Jhoulys Chacin looks like he loses his focus on the mound.|
It has become an annual tradition in April and May for fans of the Colorado Rockies to humbly crawl back on the bandwagon. Hesitantly believing that maybe this is the year. Maybe the front office does have a plan. Maybe they actually do know what they are doing.
And as soon as the bandwagon fills back up, things start to get wobbly, the brakes start to smoke, and the wheels fall off, launching the loaded bandwagon back into the dust.
Sure, it is just two bad games. Two consecutive shutouts isn't something that is extremely rare. It probably happens to every team every year. The Red Sox, defending their World Series championship, just came off of a 10-game losing streak. Bad things happen to good teams. It is the nature of baseball.
However, for the Rockies, old habits die hard. In this case, the habit is believing that they cannot win on the road. It is accepting that they are going to lose and that sputtering to a 2-7 road trip is just something that they are going to have to accept.
If the Colorado Rockies ever want to win on the road, they have to start believing that they can win on the road.
A lackadaisical approach on Monday resembled the same one that they took a day ago in Atlanta. This team looks nothing like the team that battled back from four and six run deficits no more than a month ago. This team resembles the one that showed up from June on a year ago. A team that lacks focus and frankly, looks like they are going through the motions.
The lack of try-hard obviously falls on the shoulders of a stagnant offense after two straight shutouts. However, the performances from Jhoulys Chacin since returning from the disabled list suggest that he preferred to be there instead of on a big league mound. His efforts have been so maddening because he has such good stuff. He has legitimate No. 2 stuff. There isn't a rotation in baseball that wouldn't love to trot Chacin to the mound every fifth day. However, he lacks focus. When he wants to be good, he is good, but at times it looks like his mind wonders and he throws a get-me-over pitch.
Chacin allowed single runs in the 4th and 5th innings before giving up a two-run blast to Ryan Howard with no one out in the 6th to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. He hit the showers after that home run.
The Rockies, especially with the injuries to Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson, are relying heavily on Chacin pitching the way that he is capable of pitching. He cannot be average, and he certainly cannot be bad. He has to figure out what he is lacking and figure out how to keep his focus on the mound like he was so good at in 2013.
Fingers can be pointed at Chacin, but when an offense strands runners in scoring position in five of the nine innings, it suggests that their plate approach is lacking significantly.
Comb through the game stats. The Rockies are back to their free-swinging ways. There is nothing wrong with firing at the first pitch. Often times that is the best pitch to connect on. However, there are times and places for that, and the Rockies are picking the wrong ones. When a pitcher just walked a batter, swinging at the first pitch is generally a bad idea. The batter should allow the pitchers struggles to continue instead of free swinging. Also, with runners on base, swinging at 2-0 counts is never a good idea.
What it looks like is that the Rockies are starting to press on the road. They are feeling the adversity and their struggles are starting to snowball. Instead of relaxing and knowing that they are going to get plenty of opportunities to win games, the Rockies seem to be feeling like every at-bat is going to determine who wins the game. Suddenly the grip on the bat becomes tighter and the ball that normally would be hit back up the middle for a single is popped up to the outfield because a batter is trying to do too much.
The Rockies are a talented team, but as was previously discussed, the success of this team hinged on this long road trip. The Rockies needed to prove to themselves that they are capable of winning on the road. They needed to show themselves that they can still put up runs in another team's ballpark. However, failing to win games, and failing to score runs has a far-reaching effect. Suddenly the Rockies now slip back into a mindset that makes them believe that they can't win on the road. With that belief, with that in the back of players minds, there is little to no chance for victory.
When that mindset takes over, suddenly the team starts going through the motions and doesn't believe they are good enough to get the job done away from home.
The Rockies had such a great start. They were playing well both at home and on the road. Getting into late May, the road trip gave them a chance to believe they could win away from Coors Field. Instead, it has proven that winning away from home is something that isn't going to be easy.
More than that, it confirms to the nay-sayers that it is the same old Rockies taking the field everyday. It is a bunch of guys who don't believe in themselves, and will ultimately crumble as the heat of summer rolls in.
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