It sucks to be a Colorado Rockies fan right now. There’s no way around it, the team is playing terrible baseball, trapped in the worst losing streak since 2005 and tied for second longest all-time. Fans complained last week as the Rockies faced intermittent baseball due to ceaseless rain, and even snow, in Colorado. Upon arrival in dry and drought-ridden California, they were at least guaranteed their scheduled games.
Those monsoons were better.
This is not a fun team to watch right now. There are very few redeeming factors, and the challenges on the field have given rise to what has been a tumultuous few days in Rockies World. As the rain continues to pour for Rockies fans, rumors are swirling around star shortstop and face-of-the-franchise Troy Tulowitzki, who is reportedly meeting with his agent in L.A. and may discuss the possibility of a trade out of Colorado.
But all the speculation, rumor mongering and angst aside, the best we can do is turn to what is the latest to go wrong in this seemingly constant stream of losses and missteps.
In the previous series recap, Adam Peterson discussed the travails of the offense, whose underwhelming performance has been masked by generally atrocious starting pitching. However, those issues came further towards the forefront this series after the Rockies failed to take advantage of strong starting performances, wasting first the rare solid outing by Kyle Kendrick and again with a shockingly great performance by Christian Bergman, who was filling in for Jordan Lyles.
The second game of the series seemed to encapsulate the difficulties, as the Rockies struck out a total of 14 times and didn’t walk once. In the two games of this series, DJ LeMahieu took the Rockies’ one and only walk. As Adam covered last week, the Rockies are dead last in baseball in taking walks with 59, compared to the league average of 98. Meanwhile, their on-base percentage is at .311, 21st in baseball overall and well below the .316 league average.
Overaggressive approaches are continuing to hamper the Rockies in even giving themselves a chance to score. While they failed to cash in on several opportunities with runners in scoring position in the series, many of their best opportunities came with two outs. It’s difficult to make use of scoring opportunities when there are so few given, and that was the Rockies’ undoing in both games. In the first game of the set, they had only four total opportunties with runners in scoring position. On Wednesday night, they had seven, but four came with two out, handcuffing their chances to do much damage.
Last week, I said the offense can’t be expected to pick up the slack for the pitching as they relinquish an average of over nine runs a game. But that doesn’t excuse poor offense, and despite a stacked lineup, the Rockies have been swinging themselves into too many outs lately to make any difference with their bats.
It’s difficult baseball to watch on both sides of the ball now. The Rockies weren’t expected to be a good team, but they are not THIS bad. Eventually, they will have to win a game again. Right?
Game 1: Angels 5, Rockies 2
Many fans cringe at the thought of a Kyle Kendrick start, and with good reason. But he came out with a shockingly strong on Tuesday night, and gave the Rockies their first quality start (at least six innings with less than three runs allowed) since April 23, only their sixth on the season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
The Rockies took an early, and refreshing, 2-0 lead off of a Troy Tulowitzki sac fly and Corey Dickerson double. Meanwhile, Kendrick gave up only five hits while recording five strikeouts and 0 walks. That bears repeating. No walks! The Angels scraped together a couple of runs on a groundout from Matt Joyce and a single from Carlos Perez.
The game sat tied 2-2 through the seventh inning, but it slipped after Rafael Betancourt relinquished three runs on three hits and recorded only two outs, giving the Angels the lead that would prove to be the difference in the game. The Rockies didn’t put up much of a fight against former teammate Huston Street in the 9th, going down 1-2-3 to complete their 10th consecutive loss.
Tweets of the game:
I just realized that they never had little Ubaldo. pic.twitter.com/lN4YSp5KCj
— Chris Chrisman (@chrischrisman) May 13, 2015
The @Rockies had only 5 quality starts (6+ IP, 3 ER or less) entering today. No other team had fewer than 10.
— Purple Dino Podcast (@purpledinocast) May 13, 2015
Kyle Kendrick and CJ Wilson in a pitchers duel. What is life?
— Dan Lucero (@danluceroshow) May 13, 2015
Game 2: Angels 2, Rockies 1 Things took a turn for the strange in the second matchup, starting with the unfortunate news that Walt Weiss had gone to the hospital just prior to the game with a stomach ailment that turned out to be appendicitis. The Baseball Gods, who seem to have a long-running grudge against the Rockies, struck again in the first when Jordan Lyles was struck in the hand by a comebacker off the bat of Albert Pujols. Fortunately, early reports are that the hand isn't broken, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post:
Nothing broken, but a big bruise. Said he'll make his next start. We'll see. https://t.co/tiwIAsV7yk
— Patrick Saunders (@psaundersdp) May 14, 2015
The Rockies turned to Christian Bergman, who gave an absolutely stellar performance. He did what so many Rockies starters have failed to do this season and pounded the strike zone with 39 strikes in 50 pitches, giving up only one run and three hits. It seemed like just the unexpected positive that could steer the Rockies ship back towards shore.
The rest of the bullpen continued the big night. Scott Oberg entered the game with two inherited runners on second and third and gave up a run before finishing the inning while Boone Logan and John Axford worked scoreless 8th and 9th innings respectively, moving the game into extra innings. Christian Friedrich pitched a solid 10th inning, but wound up with the loss on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the 11th.
The blame for the night, however, really lies on the offense. They put together a run in the fourth on three straight singles, but failed to come around again the rest of the evening. Carlos Gonzalez challenged Mike Trout's arm in the 11th inning and lost, called out after a play review. Tulowitzki also almost put the Rockies back in the lead with a solo shot in the 9th, but was robbed by none other than Mike Trout. That guy is really good. Though the team had a total of 10 hits, only one went for extra bases.
Tweets of the game:
Given the paucity of good things to talk about on the field, I think we should try this tonight. pic.twitter.com/bddbLYR4jg
— Chris Chrisman (@chrischrisman) May 13, 2015
He looks like a thumb come to life He ruins all your scoring chances He's Mike Trout
— AA Journeyman Connor (@rockiesVSconnor) May 14, 2015
The Week in Links
The biggest news of the week, of course, came with the news that Tulowitzki is mulling over asking for a trade, sparking endlessly circutious rumors and speculation. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs investigates some of the possible suitors, while Drew Creasman over at Purple Row lists 23 reasons why the Rockies should hang on to Tulo. It's a debate that is likely to rage for a while, so hold on to your hats.
I've said it, most of the other bloggers have said it, and you have probably said it: the Rockies are playing bad baseball. Jeff Bridich knows this too, and he called it out in an interview with Thomas Harding of mlb.com and challenged the team to play better baseball.
There has been growing discussion of the Rockies offensive troubles, which has recieved more of a spotlight in the last few games. Head of PurpleRow Bryan Kilpatrick takes a more in-depth look at where the trouble spots have been.
Colorado Rockies Record: 11-19
Run Differential: -51 (Pythagorean Record: 73-89)
NL West: 5th, 9.5 GB of Los Angeles Dodgers (22-11)
NL Wild Card: 10th, 5.5 GB of Chicago Cubs (18-15)
Games Remaining: 131
Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds: 2.2%
Next Series: Four games at Los Angeles Dodgers (22-11, 1st in National League West)
Saturday, May 16: Jorge De La Rosa vs. Zach Greinke (7:10 p.m., ROOT)
Sunday, May 17: Kyle Kendrick v. Mike Bolsinger (2:10 p.m., ROOT)
Please just win a game, Rockies.