Even more sickening than the harsh reality of the standings might be for the Rockies is that the club coughed two games up Saturday and Sunday. If you read my recap of Jamie Moyer's start on Friday, then you know the Rockies barely had a chance in that one. Colorado has only come away victorious once with Moyer on the hill in seven tries as it's hard to win baseball games when the other team scores five or more runs in the first five innings. Just like it's hard to pitch in the majors throwing only 78 mph.
That wasn't the story on Saturday and Sunday as the Rockies were very much in both games. Tyler Colvin, possibly the Rockies new man in center, was in the lineup for both games and scored the Rockies only run Saturday. More importantly, Juan Nicasio struck out nine Dodgers in seven innings while allowing just a run on five hits and no walks. It was the best pitching performance by a Rockies starter this year. I don't even have to look that up, it just has to be.
Even with Nicasio spinning a beautiful gem, the Rockies couldn't muster more than one run while he was in the game. For some reason Josh Outman, who was injured earlier in the season while vomiting, was brought in to face James Loney to start the eighth inning. The Rockies got Outman from Oakland last offseason (along with Guillermo Moscoso in the Seth Smith deal) and there had been talk about using him as a left-handed specialist, but bringing him into a tie game in the eighth inning was an extremely questionable decision because it was his first appearance all year.
Now, Outman was immediately pulled for Matt Belisle after allowing a single to Loney, so he technically didn't give up the game and Loney has a considerable career platoon split (.801/.665), but you still have to consider the value of any type of baserunner with no outs in that spot. An A.J. Ellis bunt later and the Dodgers had a runner in scoring position with two chances to cash in. They would only need one as Tony Gwynn Jr. came through with a bloop single. The Rockies would go quietly in the ninth and fall 2-1.
If Belisle starts the 8th on his own, things might've been different. Instead, the Rockies had to stomach another tough loss and play with their backs against the wall the next day.
Sunday, they shook things up. Colvin was batting 2nd in the lineup, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was batting 5th! Michael Cuddyer took Tulo's place at the cleanup spot, for a day at least. Tulowitzki went 1-for-12 in the series and 0-for-4 in Sunday's loss, which brings him down to .258 on the season.
Offense wasn't the problem Sunday, which was surprising against Ted Lilly, noted Rockies killer. The top of the order got the job done as Marco Scutaro, Colvin, and Carlos Gonzalez combined to go 5-for-12 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI. The Rockies got on top with a three-run first inning and held a 4-2 lead before it all unraveled in the fifth inning.
Alex White, who struggled mightily at this level last season, couldn't escape the fifth inning. White's struggles last year were of the home run variety, but on Sunday he just couldn't get out of his own jam. After walking the bases loaded, White gave up the lead on a bases clearing double to Bobby Abreu and the Rockies never got it back.
It didn't have to go down this way, but it did. As we get to the quarter mark of the season, the Rockies haven't lived up to even modest expectations. The pitching has been atrocious and doesn't figure to get a ton better as the season goes on, although Drew Pomeranz will be back at some point and Nicasio and Christian Friedrich, who starts Monday night at San Francisco, have been throwing well.
The best chance the Rockies have at this point is to let the young players in the organization continue to grow as the best way to build a consistent winner is through the farm system. Making the playoffs this year, which I thought was a long shot with this group in Spring Training anyway, was contingent on the NL West being "wide open" for the taking and the Rockies big stars like Gonzalez and Tulowitzki having monster seasons. Well, it didn't shake out like that. It didn't shake out like that at all. The Dodgers have come out of nowhere to somehow dominate the division and the Rockies haven't even put up much of a fight for second place.
Looking at the schedule a week ago, it was clear that this could be a make or break road trip for the Rockies. The club is currently 1-5 on the trip with two games remaining with the Giants. Friedrich takes the mound tonight with the Rockies not having won a games since he last pitched and the last pitcher to win a game for the Rockies besides Friedrich would technically be closer Rafael Betancourt, who hasn't pitched in almost a week.
Sadly, these are the dark times for the Rockies.