|Corey Dickerson has been the lone bright spot.|
The Colorado Rockies and Nicholas Sparks have something in common. Change the names, adjust the storyline ever-so-slightly, change the location, and there is a new book to write, or a new game in which to tell the same story.
That has been the case for the Rockies since the middle of May. Injuries have figured into the story, but overall a lack of depth and a lack of talent has doomed the Rockies on a near-nightly basis. Winning at home has always been easier for the Rockies, but this team has taken their road struggles to a new level in 2014, something that is difficult to imagine.
This club, after losing on Tuesday night in San Diego, has gone 3-22 in their past 25 games away from Coors Field. Three wins in 25 opportunities is almost impressive. It is nearly as much of an accomplishment as it is an embarrassment.
On Tuesday night, the Rockies got something that they usually only get from Jorge De La Rosa. They got a start that allowed them a chance to be in the game. This time it was Yohan Flande who gave the Rockies a chance to win. He pitched six solid innings, giving up just two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out two. If there was a night for Flande to pick up his first win, it was Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Rockies continued their poor offensive showing on Tuesday, which forced Flande's record to 0-5.
At the plate, the Rockies continued another disturbing trend. They struck out 10 times. Their strikeout rate continues to climb as they search for their offensive stride.
It isn't something that is too uncommon for a team that is hopeless in the standings and is playing out the string for the final seven weeks of the season. This is a team that hasn't had a chance since before the All-Star break. When that happens, focusing on winning baseball games gets harder and harder to do. Suddenly, wins and losses don't matter, but individual statistics do.
When the first thing that a team does when they hit the clubhouse after a win or a loss late in the season is to look at the standings, players are eager to win. When there is a chance to make the playoffs and every game matters, the way a team plays baseball is apparent. When a team has a chance to win, the guys at the plate have a plan. With a runner on base, they aren't afraid to drive the ball the other way. They work counts and foul pitches off until they get something that they want. They aren't looking to hit a home run every time they are at the plate, they are just trying to help move a runner around the bases.
On the contrary, when a team is hopeless, when players don't even look at the standings anymore because the loss column is creeping too close to 100 and there is no one below them in the standings, players start to get selfish.
When a team is out of the race, what is the point of looping a ball to the opposite field for a base hit when the next pitch might be a fastball on the inside half of the plate that they could drive? What does it matter if the runner on second base with no one out can move to third on a ground ball to the right hand side if that is going to decrease the batters' average? Why would a player sacrifice his own numbers in order to help a team win 65 games instead of 64? At some point, a player has to become selfish.
That just might be the case with these Rockies, who have quit shortening their swings with two strikes. They have quit trying to hit the ball to the opposite field. Instead, they are jumping out of their shoes at pitches, trying to pull everything, and generally getting fooled on off-speed pitches.
The biggest offender has been catcher Wilin Rosario. In a year when many fans expected him to take the next step, the Baby Bull as he is called in the clubhouse has regressed more than anyone else in purple pinstripes. Watching his at-bats is painful. The book is out on him that he is a dead-red fastball hitter. He is looking for a pitch on the inner-half of the plate that he can drive. So guess what? He never gets fastballs. Opposing pitchers continuously work the outer-half of the plate with soft stuff. Instead of adjusting, Rosario either flails at the pitch and misses it, or hits a weak ground ball to the left side.
When a team stops trying to hit pitches where they are at and starts trying to pull everything, nothing goes well. It makes things so much easier for the other team. Instead of having to work hard for outs, a pitcher just has to follow a simple formula, mixing in a steady diet of off-speed pitches that the Rockies won't adjust to.
The Rockies approach at the plate netted them with just one run on Tuesday night. The run came in the form of yet another home run from Corey Dickerson. Dickerson has been the lone bright spot on yet another disappointing road trip. His 16 home runs on the season give fans a reason to believe that he should be more than just a fourth outfielder, but instead should find his bat in the lineup on a nightly basis.
The misery continues for the Rockies on Thursday as they play a mid-afternoon getaway game in San Diego, with first pitch at just after 4:00 Mountain Time. After that, they head home to celebrate the greatest player in franchise history, Todd Helton for a weekend before watching their season spiral down the drain.
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