The baseball draft is still going on…it goes on and on and on…kind of like a nationally broadcast Yankees vs Red Sox game. Today in the 22nd round the Rockies drafted Jim Tracy’s son. Sure some nepotism played into the pick, but if it wasn’t for nepotism Mike Piazza would not have been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers (Tommy Lasorda influenced that pick).
If you want to read about the Rockies first two picks of the draft, click here.
Tonight the Rockies are facing off against the putrid Houston Astros.
Some good news from the Rockies infirmary; Jorge De La Rosa is throwing off a mound and feels good, Huston Street continues his rehab assignment without issues and Taylor Buchholz is still progressing and should return in the near future. Adding three arms like that to the Rockies roster over the next month (if they are lucky with De La Rosa) is a huge lift to this team.
Ian Stewart is getting another day off and Melvin Mora takes his place at third again. Almost the same lineup as yesterday except Seth Smith is back in left field. The lineup is CarGo (CF), Smith (LF), Tulo (SS), Hawpe (RF), Olivo (C), Helton (1B), Mora (3B) and Barmes (2B).
I did see De La Rosa in the outfield today shagging balls during BP. He didn’t show any ill effects when he threw a ball back into the infield. Would love to see him head down for a rehab assignment. If/when that does happen, who is the odd man out of the rotation? Cook? Hammel? Chacin?
As always, if you want to post comments or questions, do so and I will answer. First pitch is in about 2 hours and I am crossing my fingers the rain stays away (sky is getting a little dark north of the stadium).
5:40: Press area is captivated by Stephen Strasburg’s debut. The Washington Nationals sold out for tonight’s game and through three innings it has been worth the price of admission. 3IP, 1 hit, 0 BBs and 6 K’s. He has hit 99 and 98 on the gun numerous times and his curve ball looks unhittable.
6:00: Who pays more attention to detail? An NFL head coach or the Coors Field grounds crew?
6:41: First pitch and first hit for a scorching hot Jeff Keppinger.
6:45: Even though I am impressed by Tulo’s arm every game, there are plays like the double play in the first that really impresses. With a base runner bearing down on him and the need to catch and throw quickly Tulo slings a dart to Helton to get the backend of the double play. I find it hard that anyone is better defensively at short than Tulo.
6:53: Shortly after Strasburg K’d his 14th man (14 of his 21 outs were via K…) the Rockies “Phenom”, Tulo, hits a 2-run double to give the Rockies the lead.
7:02: Francis only throws 20 pitches to get through the first two innings. He has been sharp like this the past few outings and then falls apart in the fifth or sixth. We will see what happens tonight.
7:10: Either Barmes has a ton of range (probably) or Hawpe doesn’t have any (definitely). Barmes just caught a fly ball in shallow right field. Not shallow right field behind second base, but shallow right field near the foul line. Hawpe couldn’t get there but Barmes could.
7:14: Perfect example of how past performance does not mean future success: Jorge Cantu of the Marlins had a seven game hitting streak and was batting .500 against the Phillies starter tonight with a few home runs. Well, after the Phillies starter left the game in the fifth Cantu was 0-3. (He did record a hit in his fourth at-bat, but not against the starter he was supposed to be a lock against).
7:19: “Tu-Lo-Git to Quit”. Fantastic.
7:22: This game feels like it should be more lopsided than 3-0. The Rockies are out-hitting the Astros 7-1 and have been hitting Brian Moehler hard, just not keeping rally’s going.
7:24: Keppinger continues to get base hits. He has the Astros second hit of the night, a double in the fourth inning. In his last nine games he is batting .371 with a .907 OPS.
7:30: Only 42 pitches through four innings for Francis, but the second time through the Astros lineup resulted in a lot more balls squared up on the round baseball bat. He allows the first Astros run of the game. He needs to improve on getting batters out after they have seen him one time.
7:34: A couple of cowboys, actual cowboys with the hats and everything, got a little excited over a routine fly out to center field for Helton. I think since Helton plays country music for his at-bat music he must endear himself to the belt buckle wearing crowd.
7:39: Moehler walks Francis with two-outs and CarGo gets an AB with a man on first and third. CarGo is already 2-for-2 on the night with two solid base hits.
7:40: Moehler survives as CarGo pops out weekly to short. The Rockies now have three runs off of nine base runners allowed in the game. They scored the three runs in the first and while they have continued to hit Moehler they have failed miserably in putting him away. They could have easily ran him from the mound early and instead he is down only two runs in the game.
7:46: Some dude is yelling and I mean YELLING, “hey batter” while the Astros hit. I need an old sock so I can stuff it in his mouth.
7:47: Interested in how Dexter Fowler is doing at AAA? In seven games played he is 12-for-30 at the plate batting .400/.500/.600. In other words he is absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball.
7:58: The Rox retire Keppinger.
8:02: Matt Cain pitches a shutout for the Giants and they win 3-0.
8:10: Mets beat the Padres 2-1 in 11 innings. Rockies need a win to gain some ground.
8:22: CarGo is a black hole in center field. With the caught line drive the top of the seventh ends and the Rockies hold onto a slim 3-2 lead. They had Moehler on the ropes in the early innings and they let him pitch six innings, not scoring any runs since the first. Francis is pitching his best game of the year, allowing two runs on seven hits and has thrown seven innings on only 82 pitches. The soft underbelly of the Astros is now in the game; their bullpen. Rox need to take advantage and give Francis some breathing room.
8:28: Instead of doing anything offensively the Rockies go quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Need six more outs to get the W and have no room to wiggle. Tracy pulls Francis after seven very good innings. It is up to the bullpen to close this game out.
8:32: I know Belisle has been good this year…but…I am still nervous.
8:39: The game has completely stopped, or so it feels like. It was moving right along and then Belisle came in and it screeched to a halt. After about seven or eight minutes there is still only one out and a man on second. I can see the lead disappearing.
8:42: Belisle leaves with runners on first and third and only one out. Franklin Morales, fresh off the DL, will be tasked with getting Berkman and Lee without giving up a run. Well, Francis, you pitched very well but you are not getting a “W” tonight.
8:46: And there goes Francis’ “W”. A weak ground ball from Berkman is enough to get the tying run home. 3-3.
8:47: All of this makes me wonder why Tracy pulled Francis. He was dealing, only threw 82 pitches and was pitching very well. Last year he tried to let his starters finish what they start when they pitch like Francis did tonight.
8:50: And now the Rockies are losing. The bullpen blows it. Blows it. Belisle, Franklin and Betancourt. Pathetic. How short can I make my sentences? Shorter.
8:53: Now the tables are turned and the Rockies have six outs to tie the game.
8:56: Hawpe almost ties the game with a moon shot. If it hadn’t been caught by a leaping Jason Michaels in left field it might have made it over the fence. A wall-scraper for sure.
9:00: In a game in which it felt like the Rockies were going to run away with the win after the first two or three innings, they have found a way to find themselves trailing going into the ninth. The Astros bullpen has done what the Rockies cannot; pitch scoreless frames. In fact, the Astros now have more base hits in the game. The Rockies were leading 7-1 early in the game and now the Astros lead 10-9 in base hits and 4-3 on the scoreboard. If the Rockies lose this one is going to hurt.
9:06: Here we go, bottom of the ninth, Rockies down by run…and the bottom of their order. Another game slips through the Rockies fingers.
9:11: Mora down on strikes. Ian Stewart pinch hitting for Barmes.
9:16: Tying run is on base, Stewart works a hard earned walk. Jason Giambi is in the game to pinch hit and Herrera is pinch running for Stewart.
9:18: Giambi shows off his warning track power and flies out to deep left field. It is now up to free swinging CarGo to win this for the Rox.
9:19: And in a shocker CarGo was first pitch swinging and he grounds out to second base. Rox lose 4-3.
If the last part of this “running diary” or “live examining” seems pessimistic, it is because it is. The Rockies were picked by many to run away with the division and here were are 1/3 of the way through the season and it seems like they find a lot of ways to lose games they should win. Whether it is a Barmes error against the Royals or the bullpen blowing a lead tonight or the offense going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position like they did the other night, they find a way to lose.
This team should be solid in the field, on the mound and in the batter’s box, but like so many amateur golfers that feel they can never “put it all together” with their driving of the ball, iron play, short game or putting, the Rockies have been unable to string together a bunch of quality played baseball games. They win a good one last night but fail to do the little things tonight.
They should have chased Moehler from the game early and didn’t. They should have produced more runs in the early innings, and didn’t. Tracy pulled Jeff Francis from a game in which he was in control. The bullpen enters the game with a one-run lead and can’t hold the lead. Big bats like Stewart, Giambi and CarGo come to the plate late in the game and they cannot do anything of significance offensively.
It has been an ugly season of baseball, says the pessimist.
The optimist looks at the standings and sees that the Rockies are still in contention and that the other teams in the NL West aren’t doing a lot to separate themselves.
The All Star break is quickly approaching and the Rockies need to figure this out in short order if they want to play in October.