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It couldn’t last forever. The Colorado Rockies lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 on Friday night.
The Rockies six straight road wins to enter the season would be as far as they would go. Game seven on the road came against a certain pitcher who happens to be very good. In fact, his three Cy Young awards and National League MVP award suggest that he might be really, really good. If that isn’t good enough, consider the fact that the guy the Rockies faced on Friday night is the first pitcher ever to have the league’s best ERA in four consecutive seasons.
Yep, that would be Clayton Kershaw.
The good news for the Rockies was that Kershaw didn’t have his best stuff. The bad news was that neither did Kyle Kendrick for the Rockies. If Kershaw didn’t have his best stuff, it was still going to take a great night from Kendrick to keep the Rockies in the game. Unfortunately for the Rockies, Kershaw’s off-night consisted of him giving up three runs on six hits. Oh, by the way, his off-night also included 12 strikeouts.
The Rockies had their chances. Troy Tulowitzki, who continues to show how good he is when he is healthy, launched a missile off of Kershaw in the top of the 4th inning to draw the Rockies within two runs to 3-1. The problem is, Kendrick immediately gave the run back in the bottom half of the 4th. The Rockies put up two more runs in the 5th inning, when Charlie Blackmon hit a mistake pitch from Kershaw over the wall in right field to give the Rockies their third run and bring them within a run again. The problem was, Kendrick gave those runs right back in the bottom half.
The Rockies look like they have the talent to be competitive in 2015. They look like a better team in 2015 then they were in 2014. However, Friday night shined a very bright light on the issues that were able to be ignored during the Rockies first nine games.
The Rockies success is largely dependent on them getting good outings from their starting pitchers. They really need the young kids to take the next step and they are depending on their veterans to lead the way. Jorge De La Rosa has been sidelined with injury, and two of the three starts from Kyle Kendrick suggest that he isn’t quite up to the task of being a solid contributor to this team.
Kendrick was brought in to eat innings. He isn’t exactly a guy who anyone is suggesting will be great, but he should be dependable enough to get outs when he needs them, limit damage and work fairly quick innings, inducing ground balls and giving his offense a chance to win the game. Kendrick was great in the opener, but was far from great in his last two starts, failing to get out of the 5th inning on Friday night.
The Rockies bullpen has been very good in the early-going. However, the one way to ensure that stat will change is for the Rockies starting pitchers to continue working less than six innings. If the bullpen is going to be effective, they cannot be picking up four to five innings of baseball every night. The starting pitchers have to get into the 6th inning regularly, and every now and then they need to get even deeper than that.
No Rockies fans need to lose any sleep over the team’s loss on Friday. The pitching matchup was more heavily in favor of the Dodgers. That doesn’t give the Rockies an excuse to go out and lose, but in baseball, there are going to be times when a team needs everything to go right in order to have a chance to win. When Kendrick gave up three runs in the 1st inning, the idea of a Rockies win became even more of a fantasy than it was before the game started.
The Rockies have already notched three wins on this six-game road trip. That doesn’t mean that they can mail it in throughout the games in Los Angeles, but it does mean that a loss on Friday shouldn’t cause panic.
Saturday sees the Rockies once again get a tough matchup, when Jordan Lyles is faced by Zack Grienke. If the Rockies can snag that game, they will be playing with house money on Sunday before returning to Coors Field for seven straight games.