Rockies Magic Number

Friday, June 30, 2006

Who is this guy and what did he do with Josh Fogg?

Date: 7/1/2006
Position: T-2nd NL West
Games Back: 1.0
Elimination Number: 83

Quick update from Houston, Josh Fogg pitched a complete-game shutout in a record 1:52, the fastest in Rockies history. Fogg faced all of 27 batters (and for you mathematicians, that's the minimum amount you can face), including 1 walk, 2 hits, and 3 double plays.

Brad Hawpe provided all the offense, singling and then being driven in by Carroll, and later hitting a solo home run.

Normally, this would be a game that you talk about Jamie Moyer being the winner, scattering 5 hits and allowing 2 runs in his complete-game effort.

However, Fogg outshone Moyer tonight, allowing only the 2 hits and 0 runs.

Tomorrow, Byung-Hyun Kim (5-4, 4.31) will take the mound against Joel Piñeiro (6-7, 5.38) in a bid to take the series from the Mariners, and come out far, far ahead in interleague play. Having already knocked down the Mariners' Ace, hopefully the rest of the series will fall like Dominoes.

Until next time, Rockies fans, good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Thursday, June 29, 2006


"Please tell me you're joking about the Zito trade. First, Shealy is an unproven talent and Barmes has only proven that he's inconsistent.
Second, in your second trade you propose the Rockies trading one of their draft picks, that's not possible either b/c baseball doesn't allow teams to trade picks.
If you're gonna propose a trade at least make it believable for the Rockies to land Zito they would have to give up Ian Stewart or Troy Tulowitzki and one of their top pitching prospects at a minimum."

Having not watched the Free Agent market as much as I should have, I didn't realize that Zito is a free agent at the end of this season. So unless the Rockies suddenly made a rush to a 10-game lead, and put themselves in serious playoff contention, this WOULD, in fact, be a bad trade. If they were seriously interested in Zito, making a move over the offseason would be a better idea.

In regards to giving up prospects, I'd almost suggest passing along Atkins before Stewart. If we can't find anywhere to put Atkins, we'll end up with another Shealy-Helton type situation, and if O'Dowd decides to go with Stewart for the future, we might as well get value for Atkins.

In regards to Shealy, recall last season when Helton made his first-ever trip to the DL. Shealy was called up, and played a very excellent 1B in Helton's absence. Shealy was also brought up as the DH during the 2005 interleague play. So while Shealy still lacks an entire season's experience in the majors, he showcased a firey bat and good defensive play at 1B to anyone watching. If this Zito trade is not to happen (which it probably won't just a pipe dream), perhaps we should shop towards Seattle, or another team hurting for a 1B with Shealy's skills.

For anyone suggesting that Zito in Coors would end up another Hampton or Neagle, I remind them of the fact that breakers are breaking again, thanks to our field-leveler, the Humidor. Imagine how well Neagle or Hampton might have pitched if they had the benefit of balls that break and fly balls that didn't land in the stands.

Thanks for the comment, I'm glad to see somebody's reading this!

Another AL West team bites the dust

Date: 6/29/2006
Position: T-2nd NL West
Games Back: 1.5
Elimination Number: 84

For those of you not sold on Jorge Piedra, I'd like to use this series to cite specific examples.

In Game 1, after the lead was blown by the bullpen, Piedra knocked a first pitch of F. Rodriguez to bring the Rockies within 1.

Game 2, Piedra went 2-5 with a run and an RBI.

Game 3, after the lead was blown, the Rockies squeaked one more run out of Garrett Atkins before getting the bases loaded on a walk to Brad Hawpe. Piedra then came up and pounded one into deep right center, one of the notorious power lanes at Angel Stadium, clearing the bases and solidifying the Rockies' position with a 4-run lead.

As exciting of a win as this was, the Rockies again failed to provide Jeff Francis with any run support. The Rox had 2 runs going into the top of the seventh, where Francis found himself with 2 outs, a runner on 2nd, and a struggling Vlad Guerrero at the plate. Hurdle, trusting a pitch count of 112 rather than his young southpaw's ability to get himself out of this jam so late in the game, turned to Ramon Ramirez to get the final out.

Now, if you read my additional note from yesterday, you'll see my problem with this situation. To quote,

"...Ramon Ramirez, who will either strike/pop out the next batter, or give up a single. Ramirez seems like the type of pitcher who needs an inning to himself, so he can give up that single and then work around it without letting runs in."

So while the Rockies ended up with the lead and the win, which is the most important thing in a division so tight, the Rockies failed to produce early for Francis, who pitched 6.2 innings of 1-run ball in this winning effort with nothing to show for it.

Hurdle, in my humble opinion, should have turned to David Cortes or Tom Martin, neither of whom have had much playing time lately. (Martin has not given up a run since June 3rd against the Marlins.) Hurdle has been overly reliant on Mesa and Ramirez of late, which I think is starting to show with their sub-par performances. Mesa pitched well last night, yes, and Ramirez by himself hasn't really given up any runs, but with such an excellent bullpen, Hurdle is going to have to start using all of his options, or else the pen is going to start getting rusty.

Friday, the Rockies will start their closing series of interleague play against the Seattle Mariners, where Josh Fogg (5-5, 5.08) will try and start things off right against Jamie Moyer (5-6, 3.51). Seattle has been playing excellent ball as of late, taking 8 of 10 against the NL West.

Basically, the Rockies and Mariners have been playing equally well against each other's divisions. The Mariners swept the Giants, took 2 of 3 from the Dodgers, Padres, and are about to do the same tonight against the struggling Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, the Rockies swept the Blue Jays (not AL West, but sweeping an AL East team? I'll take it.), took 2 of 3 from the Angels, Rangers, and Athletics. All the interleague steam will have built up for both of these teams, and when they collide, it'll either be some great baseball...or a trainwreck.

Some players the Rockies will have to watch out for include Ichiro, for obvious reasons. Also, Kenji Johjima, who sent 2 yard and drove in 5 on Tuesday night. Left Fielder Raul Ibanez is proving quite the threat as well this year, comprising a .288 average with 16 homers and 62 RBI.

So while many other teams may shake, quake, and collapse in the face of interleague play, the Rockies have been standing up strong and showing the AL that the NL isn't just a league of pushovers. Nuts to your moneyball play, the Rox can manufacture runs like it's going out of style (which it very well might be)!

So until next time, Rockies fans, enjoy the game on Friday, as I'll be missing the series while I'm in Houston for the weekend. But for now, I just wanna say enjoy the series, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

King then Ramirez? Not liking it.

As an additional few comments, I've noticed a trend when the bullpen is blowing the game.

Ray King comes in, and will either walk a few or get himself into a jam. Then, when the lead is about to be blow, Hurdle pulls King and goes to Ramon Ramirez, who will either strike/pop out the next batter, or give up a single. Ramirez seems like the type of pitcher who needs an inning to himself, so he can give up that single and then work around it without letting runs in.

It's similar to Brian Fuentes. Fuentes tends to walk one or two and give up a hit, but will then get the clutch strikeout to end the game.

This is why it's key for the Rockies to have a lead going into the later innings of the game. That way, you can have Ramirez, Mesa, and Fuentes pitch their 7th, 8th, and 9th with no hassles.

We've only seen the bullpen in strange situations lately, as well. The Rockies haven't really carried a 3-run lead into the 7th, it's either tied up or a blowout, one way or another. We've been seeing more of Martin as well.

Strangely enough, we haven't seen Cortes pitch much as of late.

Other Rockies news, Shealy is being eyeballed by the Baltimore Orioles. Who we'd receive in trade, I don't know, but the point is that we need to get value for him, somehow. He's stuck behind Helton, and the OF isn't going to work for him.

I propose Clint Barmes and Ryan Shealy for Barry Zito. That, or Barmes, Shealy, Mike Esposito, a 20th round pick for Barry Zito and Bobby Crosby.

Just a thought.

See you tomorrow, Rockies fans!

Continuing AL West Dominance, the Colorado Rockies

Date: 6/28/2006
Position: 3rd NL West
Games Back: 1.5
Elimination Number: 85

As Ray King grounded Adam Kennedy out to short, Aaron Cook breathed a sigh of relief. Not over Ray King, who allowed a solo homer over 2IP, but finished the game well. Not over the offense, which pounded in 12 runs to the Angels' 4.

Aaron Cook breathed that sigh of relief over the Win, his first in over a month. Not for any lack of effort, however. Aaron Cook (along with Jeff Francis) is one of the least run-supported pitchers in the majors.

But not on Tuesday night.

The Angels struck first with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st on 3 hits.

And then the Rockies proceeded to score runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th innings. Mostly singles and doubles, as well, including 3 doubles from Matt Holliday, 2 resulting in him being driven in for runs.

Atkins and Barmes had big nights as well, Atkins going 2-5 with 3RBIs and 2 runs, Barmes 2-4 with 1 run and 3 RBIs. Interestingly, Barmes, despite his .212 average, is 4th on the team for RBIs with 41. His defensive prowess and apparent ability to hit in the clutch is what is keeping Barmes in the lineup on a daily basis.

It also should be noted that the Rockies have scored early in nearly all of their last several games, within the 1st or 2nd inning. It's been a struggle for the Rockies all season, making their starting pitchers go 6-7 innings on no runs' support, maybe tallying 1 or 2 in the 5th-7th inning, oftentimes leaving an excellent starter without a decision. And while I can't say that they're doing a completely splendid job of it, scoring in the early innings helps the starter's confidence and helps them take command of a game.

I'd like to come out again and say that the bats are back. The Rockies are producing more runs than before, not leaving quite as many runners aboard, and helping win games for their starters.

Tonight will be a big challenge. Firstly, because we have struggled as a team against the Angels. Secondly, despite all the writing done about how the Rockies will not support Aaron Cook on the mound, they've somehow given Jeff Francis even less run support. Only by like .10 runs, but you have to realize that Cook and Francis are both sitting at under 3.75 runs/start for support (before last night's game).

The Rockies will hope to rectify this tonight in the series finale against the Angels. Francis (5-7, 4.37) will attempt to win his 6th of the season to join Cook and Jennings in the 6-win club against Ervin Santana (8-3, 4.03). Santana has never faced the Rockies, and has pitched EXCELLENT ball this season. Santana has only allowed more than 3 ER 4 times this season, in 15 starts, the most being 6 against Toronto back in the beginning of May in a 3-13 routing.

Francis has also never started against the Angels, and has been roughed up his last two outings, allowing 11 ER over 11.2 IP, watching his ERA jump into the low 4's. Francis is looking for a hot start to bring him another win, lower his ERA, and most importantly, take the series for the Rockies.

So until next time, Rockies fans, enjoy the game, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Oh Purple Glove, why have you forsaken JJ?!

Date: 6/27/2006
Position: 3rd NL West
Games Back: 2.0
Elimination Number: 85

A rare blown game by the Bullpen.

Jason Jennings carried a 3-hitter with a 3 run lead (thanks to a Todd Helton homer and a Brad Hawpe RBI single) into the 8th inning Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels. He gave up a leadoff single and a walk, and was then pulled in favor of Jose Mesa.

Mesa then gave up consecutive singles to score 1 and load the bases before grounding out Vlad Guerrero...for the first out. Yet a run still scored.

So now, it's 3-2 Rockies, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out. So Garrett Anderson was intentionally walked in hopes of inducing a double play from Angels catcher Mike Napoli.

Instead, Napoli doubled to deep right center, right up the power alley, scoring the runners on 2nd and 3rd, and more importantly, giving up the lead.

At the point, Mesa was pulled in favor of Tom Martin, who got a grounder right back to tag out Anderson on his way home.

Hurdle then went to Ramirez, who gave up an RBI single before grounding out Izturis to end the inning.

Now, rather than facing an Angels hold-the-gap pitcher, the Rockies now had to face Francisco Rodriquez, their star closer.

Rodriguez struck out Atkins and Hawpe, looking and swinging, respectively. DH Jorge Piedra then stepped up to the plate, and knocked the first pitch he saw out of the park.

4-5 Angels

Closser then stepped up, and after a couple balls and strike, knocked a big one into deep center -

back -

back -

back -

and into the waiting glove of Chone Figgins.

I can't really complain entirely too much, except about the bullpen, but even then, a game such as this is so rare, that we can't stay mad. It would just be nice to be able to beat the Angels.

With 3 weeks until the All-Star game, the Rockies are right at .500, a goal that a lot of fans realistically set for our boys at the end of last season. Before the break, however, the Rockies will face the Seattle Mariners to wrap up this season's interleague play. The Rockies will then return to the NL West to face San Francisco and Arizona, before enjoying the All-Star break.

Tonight, the Rockies will hope to take the series back under the arm of Aaron Cook (5-7, 3.46) who is looking to take a win from Jeff Weaver (3-9, 5.82). Weaver's high number are more indicative of the beginning of the season, where he was lit up game after game. However, in his last 10 starts, Weaver has allowed more than 3 earned runs only twice.

Weaver has a career 5.06 against Colorado, with a BAA of .273. The homefield hasn't been good to Weaver either, showing an ERA of 7.92, with opponents batting .326 against him.

So while Weaver is seemingly prone to giving up a decent number of runs tonight, it should be noted that the Rockies are drastically failing at supporting Aaron Cook with runs. Cook has not been part of a winning game for the Rockies since beating the Toronto Blue Jays at Coors on May 19th, watching his record drop from 5-3 to 5-7 in frustrating defeat after defeat. Cook seems to be taking it all in stride, still pitching excellent ball and giving the team every opportunity to win their games.

If the Rockies can continue to strike early and often, they'll take the series from the Angels.

But until then, Rockies fans, enjoy the game, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Delayed Rejoicing

Date: 6/22/2006
Position: 3rd NL West
Games Back: 2.0
Elimination Number: 86

At the time of this writing, the Rockies are at 38-37, and 2.0 back from the Dodgers in the NL West. The Rockies, thus far, have comprised a 31-35 record against the NL, and 7-2 against the AL. So far in interleague play, the NL is losing pretty badly, something to the tune of maybe .400, while the Dodgers and Rockies and Padres are playing downright decently against the AL West (And the Rockies against the AL East).

Game 1 against the Rangers showed a bit of a pitching collapse. After having a 4-1 lead heading into the 6th inning, Francis and Scott Dohmann combined to allow a total of 8 runs in 7.0 IP. The Rox managed another 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th, which proved fruitless, as the Rockies lost 6-8.

Game 2 showed a complete turnaround. Before a 30 minute rain delay, the Rockies tallied 6 runs in the bottom of the 1st, including a 3-run shot from Choo Freeman. I said it, Choo Freeman! Anyhow, Fogg allowed 5 in 5, and the Rockies added another 5 for insurance. The Rangers scored one more on a solo shot from Teixeira in the 9th off of Jose Mesa, but aside from that, it was a thourogh trouncing.

Game 3 wasn't televised in NM, so I'll give you the highlights. BH Kim pitched a solid 7 innings, scattering 5 hits, allowing no runs while striking out 7 (this is his 2nd start without allowing a run). Mesa and Fuentes preserved the shutout, taking another series from the AL West.

It should be noted that the Rockies had 3 shutouts against the A's/Rangers over the past 6 games.

Coming up tonight, Jason Jennings (6-6, 4.02) will continue the interleague divisional matchup against John Lackey (4-5, 3.31). The Rockies have a less-than-stellar history against the Angels, losing 11 of the last 12. After such success against the A's and Rangers, this will be a good way to overcome follies of prior years.

Until then, Rockies fans, enjoy the game, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

I swear, it's a conspiracy!

Date: 6/22/2006
Position: T-3rd NL West
Games Back: 2.0
Elimination Number: 89

Once again, Aaron Cook pitched a gem, and once again, the Rockies bats failed to support him.

And all the A's needed was Nick Swisher to finish the game for them.

Choo Freeman was batted in twice throughout the game, taking a 2-1 lead into the top of the 9th, where Brian Fuentes gave up the leadoff homerun to Nick Swisher (his second in the game) to blow the save before striking out 2 and taking the game into extra innings.

Jose Mesa pitched a scoreless inning, after getting himself out of a 1st/3rd jam.

Calero then came in for the A's and retired Spillborghs, Helton, and Holliday in a row.

Ray King then came in, walked Nick Swisher in what would prove to be the fatal baserunner. Swisher was then sac'd to 2nd, Eric Chavez walked, before Hurdle decided he'd seen enough of King. Ramon Ramirez came in, gave up a single to Kelty, which scored Swisher (for his 3rd run of the night) before finishing off the A's.

Despite a Torrealba single (I know, I'm as shocked as you) in the bottom of the 11th, the Rockies were not able to produce any more runs that night.

And Aaron Cook had a winning effort left out to dry again.

The Rox mustered more than enough hits to score 5-6 runs, but left 9 on base and only scored the 2 runs. Holliday was the biggest offender, coming up to the plate in the bottom of the 5th with only 1 out, and managed to ground into a 5-3 double play. Holliday left 8 stranded on the basepath.

Barry Zito hardly brought his best stuff to Coors

The Bullpen was a little shaky tonight, nobody pitching perfect ball. Fuentes blew the save, Mesa had runners in dangerous scoring position before retiring the side, King walked 2, and Ramirez gave up the game-winning single. Granted, had Ramon started his own inning, that single might have been meaningless. Hurdle may also have hurried him to the mound, giving him inadequate time to warm up.

However, this writer is still not worried about the bullpen. If Ramirez can get through an inning only giving up a hit or two, Mesa can work himself out of his own jams, and Fuentes being an All-Star pitcher, despite a few blown saves, is still the obvious closer for the Rox.

Tonight, Jeff Francis (5-6, 4.13) will square off against John Koronka (5-4, 5.00). Francis and Koronka have both pitched similar ball as of late, both allowing 6 or more runs in 2 of their last 5 starts. Koronka rebounded well from the beating, allowing only 2 runs in a win against Arizona. Francis was lit up in his last start against St. Louis, and he is planning on a rebound against the Rangers.

So until then, Go Rockies!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Folks, you witnessed History

Date: 6/21/2006
Position: T-3rd NL West
Games Back: 1.5
Elimination Number: 91

Through Jason Jennings, Tom Martin, and Brian Fuentes, the Rockies pitched their first-ever 1 hitter. Jennings struck out 6, walked 6, got himself out of a massive bases-loaded situation in the top of the first, and while he didn't have his best stuff going, it was good enough to nearly no-hit the A's. The only hit the A's managed was in the top of the 1st to A's catcher Jason Kendall, a leadoff shot that Brad Hawpe dived for, caught, only to have slip out of his glove on the ensuing roll.

This marks 22 straight scoreless innings from the Rockies.

Coming into Monday's game, the Rockies had just gotten off a 4-3 road trip, which constituted a sweep of the Nationals and a sweep from the Cardinals. Every had been excited by the offensive prowess the Rockies showed over the wayward Nationals, and then immediately quieted by the mere 7 runs scored against St. Louis over the 3 game series.

Judging by the sweep the A's completed over the (former) NL-West Best Dodgers, contributing to the A's 10-game winning streak, everybody tuned into Coors Field not knowing what to expect.

I'm sure nobody expected that the A's would not be able to score a run against the Rockies in two games.

I also doubt that anyone expected the Rockies to outscore a seemingly superior AL-West team by 13 runs in two games, either.

The Rockies have slowly started to do what they needed to do against StL, and that's strike early. Monday, Matt Holliday pounded a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 1st to send the Rockies to an early 2-0 lead.

Last night, Todd Helton doubled down the left field line to bring in Jamey Carroll, and give the Rox a 1-0 lead.

While the Rockies have only been striking small early in the game, and waiting until later innings to add to that lead. While it'd be good to see 4-5 runs in the first 3 innings, I think that 1 or 2 in the first is a good start. The early strike will put the other team immediately back on their heels, and offer an early turn for the Rox. Combined with good starting pitching, as well as the still-stellar bullpen, these kinds of formulas can, quite often, lead to wins, and eventually, the division.

While it was noted in previous writings that the Rockies have trouble beating tougher teams, the Athletics were on top of the AL West, with winning records against the rest of the AL West and the ever-dangerous AL East. What does it mean, however? Are the A's one of those big teams that the Rockies usually struggle against, or are these last 2 wins stereotypical of another weak western division team? Was the A's sweep of the Dodgers a fluke, or are the legitimately better than than LA?

Whatever it is, I couldn't be more pleased with the team's performance these past two games. The only player last night who didn't have a hit was Brad Hawpe, but he still drew 2 walks. The team is showing an offensive upturn, Helton's starting to look like Helton again, and The Rockies are starting to win again.

Tonight, Aaron Cook (5-7, 3.66) will hope to get another win to go with his excellent pitching, and Barry Zito (8-3, 8.51) will try and stop this interleague sweep. Zito has seen his ERA jump from 2.87 to 3.51 in his past 3 starts, allowing 5 or more runs in 2 of them. Cook's ERA has remained in the mid 3's pretty much all season.

So Here's to the Rockies, may they again strike early and often, and sweep the Athletics at home. So until then, sportsfans, Good afternoon, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Swept, swept, swept.

Date: 6/18/2006
Position: T-4th NL West
Games Back: 2.0
Elimination Number: 92

It's a darn good thing that the AL West just came in and stomped all over the NL West, or else the Rockies getting swept by the Cardinals might have done some damage in the division standings. As it is, the Rockies are 1 game under .500, coming back to Coors Field to face the Oakland Athletics. I might add that the A's just swept the NL West-best Dodgers.

This was a disheartening series for Rockies pitchers. Aaron Cook pitched 7 strong innings, allowing only 2 runs, yet still was slapped with the loss. Jeff Francis allowed 6 in 6, only the 2nd game this season where he has allowed more than 3 runs, and a late game surge still left the Rockies short. Josh Fogg pitched 5 innings, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, and only a solo home run to show for the Rockies offense.

As said in the previous post, this seems to be the story of the Rockies season. Tonight, the heartbreak started in the top of the 1st. Bases loaded, 1 out (seems familiar, doesn't it), and Garrett Atkins flew out and Brad Hawpe struck out. Bottom of the same inning, Scott Rolen pounds one over the left field fence, putting the Redbirds up 2-0.

The only run for the boys came in the top of the third, when Matt Holliday singled to drive Cory Sullivan across the plate.

I'm almost convinced that Matt Holliday is the only player still fully committed to winning games for the Rockies. In Matt's last 10 games, he has tallied 8 RBI, 12 Runs, 1 homer, and went, overall, 19 for 41 (.463). We've started calling the Rockies "The Matt Holliday Show."

What this series is showing is that, while much better than previous seasons, the Rox are still not ready to roll with the big dogs. They'll take occasional wins from them, but they're clearly not ready to be beating them on a regular basis. With such streaky batting to match such solid pitching, this team will have trouble finding the postseason. As exciting as it is to watch the team improve and the young players develop, it still disappoints to see such losses.

The Rockies return to Coors to face the Oakland A's. Byung-Hyun Kim (3-4, 5.40) will face off against Dan Haren (6-5, 3.44) in the Rox second interleague matchup.

So Here's to improvements, may they come fast and timely. Until next time, sportsfans, Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Late surge still leaves Rockies short

Date: 6/17/2006
Position: 4th NL West
Games Back: 2
Elimination Number: 93

Congrats to Jeff Suppan on his 100th win of his career.

Jeff Francis was lit up for his 2nd time this season. Francis pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs while walking 1 and striking out 2. And besides a first-pitch solo shot from Matt Holliday to lead off the 2nd, the bats were quiet for Francis.

By the 8th, the Rox were down 6-1, until Garrett Atkins made a game of it again with a 2-out, 3 run shot over the right field wall.

Brian Fuentes struck out 3 in the bottom of the 8th, allowing 1 hit and no runs.

For the top of the ninth, with Isringhausen on the mound, Hurdle pinched for Torrealba with Jamey Carroll, who struck out on a seemingly high pitch. He pinched again for Barmes with JD Closser, who pounded one into right, bringing the game within 1. For the pitcher's spot, Jorge Piedra struck out swinging on a brutal curve from Izzy, and the Sullivan pulled the old backwards K to finish the game.

Such a heartbreak.

Possibly the biggest blown opportunity of the game for the Rox came in the top of the 4th. Helton singled, and then Holliday and Atkins were both walked, to give a bases-loaded, 1-out at bat for Brad Hawpe. Hawpe then swung at a miserable ball and fouled out to 3rd. Torrealba then grounded out to finish the inning.

Now, I don't mean to blame the game on Brad Hawpe, but it was a clutch moment and he failed to come through.

Which seems to be the story of the Rockies' season. Men on base with a general lack of clutch at the plate. Pitchers unsupported.

Somebody commented during the game: "I'd bet all the starting pitchers leave after their contracts are up." I'm glad we don't have any primadonnas on the mound, because I could really see this happenening if this streak of subpar batting doesn't cease.

Tomorrow, Josh Fogg (4-4, 4.91) is scheduled to start against Cardinals Ace Chris Carpenter (5-3, 2.57) in the close of this series. Fogg may NOT take the hill, however, as hamstring problems have been bothering him this week.

So, hoping for the best before coming back home, this writer is signing off. Until next time, Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Remember when I said the bats were back? I was kidding.

Date: 6/17/2006
Position: 4th NL West
Games Back: 2
Elimination Number: 94

I wish I had some good news to bring. But I don't. All I know is that it seems the Rockies hate playing baseball when Aaron Cook is pitching. They seemingly refuse to give the man a win.

The Rockies were trounced by the Cardinals, 8-1. Aaron Cook pitched a solid 8 innings, allowing only 2 runs, both earned.

The Rockies were only down by 1 run, 2-1, thanks to a solo shot by Brad Hawpe in the top of the 7th. Cook retired the side in a scoreless bottom, and then the Rockies in turn were knocked down in the top of the 8th.

Then the bottom of the 8th happened.

Scott Dohmann came in to close down the 8th inning. Aaron Miles doubled to lead off the half, and then So Taguchi sacrificed him along to 3rd. With a runner on third, and Scott Rolen coming to the plate, in a 1-run game, the Rockies intentionally walked Rolen, to bring up lefty Jim Edmonds. And who better to face a lefty than our lefty specialist, Ray King?


Edmonds singled to Right, scoring Miles easily, advancing Rolen to 3rd, and then Edmonds advanced to 2nd on a throwing error from Hawpe. So 1 out, 1-3, no DP, and 2 RISP. 8 straight pitches later, and Rolen trotted across the plate with the bases still loaded.

4-1 Cards.

At this point, Hurdle decided to cut his losses and go for star rookie Ramon Ramirez. I breathed a sigh of relief. This should be the end of the inning, right?


After getting the 2nd out on an IF fly to Molina, Edmonds and Encarnacion scored on a single to center from Hector Luna. And if that wasn't enough, after the throw from Sullivan was cut off by Helton, Helton overthrew the ball to 3rd, scoring Spezio and advancing Luna to 3rd.

7-1 Cards.

Then, to add insult to injury, Perez singled, scoring Luna.

8-1 Cards.

The inning finally, mercifully, ended when Miles, up for the 2nd time in the 8th, grounded out.

Braden Looper then closed the 9th out in order.

The Rockies only mustered 5 hits off of Marquis. Marquis pitched excellently, and the seemingly rediscovered bats did nothing to stop him.

The bullpen did nothing good, either. Scott Dohmann and Ramon Ramirez have definitely pitched better innings, but I'd like to bring some focus on to Ray King.

The Rockies traded Aaron Miles and Larry Bigbie to the Cardinals in December for lefty specialist Ray King. And while I haven't been overly psyched or disappointed in Kings performance, I find him to be a complete liability when we play the St. Louis Cardinals. King seems to go out to the mound with a chip on his shoulder from StL, feeling he has something to prove. If he is, as I suggest, feeling he has to play different ball against his former club, then I think Hurdle either needs to have a meeting with him and put his head on straight, make him ride the pine, or perhaps see how the Sky Sox like him.

Maybe the last alternative is ridiculous, but if Ray King cannot get it through his big gut/head that he is a pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, and that he needs to pitch every game with the same intensity and excellence that he is capable of, then I don't see where he fits into our bullpen.

In about 2 hours, Jeff Francis (5-5, 3.76) will take the mound against Jeff Suppan (5-4, 5.35). Suppan has a 4.40 career ERA against the Rox, and in his last outing against the Rox, his 5-inning 3-ER effort was enough to lead him to a victory.

Francis, however, is posting a 0.66 ERA and 2W in 2 games (13.2 IP) against the Cards. Francis only has 1 outing this year in which he has allowed more than 3 runs. Francis is averaging just above 6IP/start, which is good news for the bullpen. Matt Holliday is posting a .450 career BA against the Cards, Helton a .309, and Jeff Suppan has given up 6 HR in his 5 career starts against the Rockies.

So here's to hoping that Colorado will quickly re-find the batting groove they had set against the Nats. So enjoy the game, sportsfans, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sweep, sweep, sweep!

Date: 6/15/2006
Position: T-3rd NL West
Games Back: 2
Elimination Number: 95

4 game winning streak? Atkins with a 14 game hitting streak? 73 runs scored in the last 9 games?

Bring on the Cardinals.

Jason Jennings started tonight against the floundering Nationals, pitched a solid 8 innings, allowing 1 unearned run on 6 hits. Ray King came in for the ninth, and after allowing a leadoff walk, struck the next 3 batters out to end the game.

The bats were turned on again for the 4th night in a row. Helton went 2-2 with 2 runs and an RBI. Hawpe went 2-3 with 4 RBI, 2 runs, and a 2-run shot in the top of the 2nd. The rest of the lineup, with the exception of Jennings and Sullivan, added at least one hit. And Sullivan laid down 3 sacs.

4 fun games, resulting in wins and a whole load of runs scored.

However, I'd like to bring up a glaring stat:

The Rox left 33 men on base, as a team, over the last 4 games.

This stat, I guarantee, will come back to bite the Rockies in the weekend series against St. Louis. Unless the Rockies can get some more efficiency out of their baserunning, I fear that St. Louis will run away with the weekend. With runners in scoring position, St. Louis is batting .297; the Rockies: .259 . However, 35 runs scored in the past 4 games gives me hope that the Rox might still be able to hammer the ball off of St. Louis' pitchers enough to take the winning edge. And with Albert Pujols out of the lineup, you never know.

Colorado has won 7 of their last 10. They swept the Nationals, took 1/3 against the Dodgers, and 2/3 against the Pirates. St. Louis took 2/3 from the Pirates, 2/3 from the Brewers, and were swept by the Reds. St. Louis is 5-5 through their last 10.

An interesting note is that in the past 2 series, StL' starters have taken a lot of damage in early innings and have not lasted long in the game at all. If the Rockies can start to muster some early-game action, they might be able to take advantage of the slumping Cards' starters and perhaps knock a pitcher or two off of the hill.

To lead things off on Friday, Aaron Cook (5-6, 3.75) will lead the series off against Jason Marquis (8-4, 4.88). Both pitchers have been pitching decently of late, yet Marquis holds the career advantage against the Rockies (Cook: ERA - 10.80, BAA .317; Marquis: ERA - 5.14, BAA .268). However, Marquis' last start against Colorado resulted in 6.0 IP with 6 ER and a win for the Rockies. Cook has not pitched against the Cards this season.

So here's to continuation of a hot streak. Until tomorrow, Rockies fans, Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Finally, back above .500!

Date: 6/14/2006
Position: 4th NL West
Games Back: 2.5
Elimination Number: 96

14-8, Another bombfest from the boys! Every player in the lineup had a hit, except for Clint Barmes. BH Kim singled in the 3rd, beat out a Fielder's Choice to third, and then scored on the ensuing Todd Helton sac fly.

Garrett Atkins, Jamey Carroll, and Todd Helton homered. Carroll through Hawpe had a combined 15 hits. Carroll scored 4 runs. Helton went 3-3 with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, and a solo shot in the 9th.

Basically, our batters ran away with the game. There was no good pitching from any of the starters though. Armas lasted 3.0 innings with 7ER, and Kim went a grand 3.1 IP with 8 runs scored, only 5 earned.

2 errors though. One, from a fine toss from Cory Sullivan that completely beat the runner going to home, but Torrealba didn't catch the easy toss. Ostensibly, he was fearing a collision at the plate. The 2nd error came with the bases loaded, 2 outs, and Kim drew a grounder to Barmes, who threw the ball low to Helton, which skipped past him and allowed 2 runs to cross, giving the Nats a temporary lead in the 4th. The Rox came right back though, resulting in a 8-8 tie in the 5th inning.

And then the Rockies Bullpen came through yet again. Tom Martin pitched a solid 3.0 innings, allowing only 1 hit and striking out and walking 2, while not surrendering a single run. Ramon Ramirez came in in his perfect style, pitching 1.2 innings, striking out 3, walking 0 and not allowing a single hit. David Cortes finished the game with a 6-run lead, allowing only 1 hit and striking out 2.

So to summarize, the Rockies bullpen again proves to be a solid source of late-game dependability. The Nats' bullpen, however, surrendered 7 runs, 5 from rookie Bill Bray, who was roughed up in his 7th relief appearance for the Nats.

I don't want to get overly excited, but the Rockies have scored 65 runs in their last 8 games. I think this could be a sign that the Rockies' bats have returned. All we need now is Todd Helton to pull above .300, and that'll make all of our 3-6 hitters all batting above .300. Add Jamey Carroll's .335, and I'd say we have a lethal lineup in there.

A couple interesting notes from the game: Cory Sullivan had 4 sac bunts in the game, and he became the 8th player in history to do so, and the first non-pitcher to do so since 1919.

Sullivan's had an interestingly historical season. You may recall back in Petco, when the Rox leveled the Padres in a 3 game series, and Sullivan did something that hadn't been done since the '50s: tripled twice in the same inning.

Another note: Garrett Atkins has a .550 average with an 0-2 count. That's downright scary. FOR OPPOSING PITCHERS!

As a gripe, I'd really like to see more of JD Closser. Despite Torrealba's recent batting success, he's been less than impressive as a defensive catcher. He's missing throwouts of basestealers, he's not making key plays at the plate, he's passing balls, and he's certainly not playing the way a #1 catcher should be. I'm not saying I love Closser that much, but he's showing that he wants it more than Torrealba does. Closser's batting .250 (to Torrealba's .174 - and Danny Ardoin's .191). I suppose this is why I'm not an MLB manager, but I guess Hurdle must have some convoluted faith in the man who's been nothing but a letdown so far this season, all over stupid mistakes. The only plus I can note is that Torrealba has already notched 7 RBIs for the Rox.

Aside from that gripe, I really couldn't be more pleased with the Rockies' play these last 5 games. 3 wins against the Nats, a win and a near-miss against the Dodgers, and we're looking to sweep the Nats tomorrow.

Speaking of Tomorrow, Jason Jennings(4-6, 4.73) is looking to regain dominance of the mound tomorrow against Liván Hernández (5-6, 5.06). History is siding with Hernández, who has a career ERA of 4.95 against the Rox, as compared to JJ's 6.75 against the former Expos. I predict a win for Jennings.

Wrapping things up, things are improving for the Coors Field crew. Let's hope we can take some of this power into StL this weekend, and show the Cards that we're a true force to be reckoned with.

So until next time, Rockies fans, Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

2 in a row, I smell a streak coming!

Date: 6/13/2006
Position: T-4th NL West
Games Back: 3.5
Elimination Number: 96

Great game tonight for the Rockies. Josh Fogg was solid in his 6 IP, allowing only 1 run while striking out 4. Scott Dohmann allowed the second run, and David Cortes and Ray King pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th.

The bats came through tonight. The Rockies rallied for 10 hits, scoring 9 runs. Holliday, Helton, Barmes, Torrealba, and Choo Freeman combined to bring all 9 runs across the plate. The only player in the starting 9 who did not have a hit was Josh Fogg.

After 4 innings of shutout ball, both teams drove a run across, bringing a 5th inning standoff at 1 run apiece. The Rockies then unleashed all hell, driving in 8 more runs in the next 2 innings, while completely disheartening the Nationals - namely Alfonso Soriano, who threw back run-scoring singles with a dejected face.

I laughed.

Tomorrow night, Byung-Hyun Kim (3-4, 4.84) will make his 9th start of the year against Tony Armas (6-3, 3.48). Kim is averaging almost 5 strikeouts a game, Armas less than 4. A big point for Kim tomorrow will be to limit the number of bags he gives up on walks. Kim is notorious for walking himself into dangerous situations, but, more often than not, also getting himself out of those situations. Armas has a history of getting roughed up by the Rox (7.48 ERA in 7 games), and the Rockies' bats have been hotter as of late. Here's to hoping that the recent tear will continue.

In other news, Luis Gonzalez has been optioned to Colorado Springs after being brought off of the DL, and he will work on his batting skills and rehab himself into a solid infielder, ready to relieve Barmes or Carroll at a moment's notice.

On a down note, Mike DeJean will be receiving season-ending shoulder surgery this week. DeJean has been experiencing tightness and pain in his shoulder, which just won't seem to go away. So rather than risk career-ending injury, DeJean will go under the surgeon's knife in hopes of a better 2007.

So for now, this writer will sign off, in hopes of another glorious Rockies victory in our quest to take back the NL West. So until then, Good night, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Win on the Road? Perish the Thought!

Date: 6/12/2006
Position: 5th NL West
Games Back: 3.5
Elimination Number: 96

6-3, That's ballgame ladies and Gents. Francis 5-5, Fuentes SV (14), and heart rate...returning to normal.

Anybody who has been following the Rockies these last 2 weeks or so is fearing a return to an old form...the form being a baseball team that disappoints. And the last 2 weeks have been nothing but disappointing.

But why worry about the past? The fact of the matter is that the Rockies beat the Nationals tonight for a much needed win.

Francis pitched 6.2 innings tonight, striking out 3, walking 3, while only allowing 2 ER. Dohmann struck out the 3rd to close the 7th, The Purple Glove had a scoreless 8th, and Brian "Heart Attack" Fuentes gave up a solo home run to Jose Guillen before finishing the 9th, striking out 2 in the process.

Jamey Carroll went 3-5 tonight, to continue his streak of amazingness as the Rox new starting 2B. JD Closser had a run and an RBI, and he has hit safely in 6 of his last 8 games. And in his last 11 games, Clint Barmes has posted a .314 BA. He's still batting only like .211 on the season, but it's good to see him actually doing something. Also, Atkins is on an 11 game hitting streak.

In other good news for the Rockies, the Diamondbacks have been roughed up by both the Phillies and the Mets. That brings a smile to MY face. And the rest of the NL West. Namely, the LA Dodgers, who claimed 1st from the floundering Snakes. And in my humble opinion, they are the most deserving team in the division to take the lead.

Promisingly, the Rox are showing signs of coming out of their batting slump. While we're not completely out of the woods, we scored 37 runs in the past 5 games, winning 3 of the 5.

Additionally, Matt Holliday is leading every Rockies offensive stat with the exception of SB (another glory of Jamey Carroll).

Coming up Tomorrow, Josh Fogg (3-4, 5.21) will attempt to lead the Rockies to another victory against Nats SP Mike O'Connor (3-3, 3.04).

Sorry about the lack of updates, loyal reader(s), but with an active internet connection, I intend to keep the Rockies news flowing like the Coors beer that flows from the very Rocky Mountains that our team was named after. So until next time, Rockies fans, good night, Good luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!