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Well, if there was any momentum that the Colorado Rockies may have built, it was officially crushed by the All-Star break.
The Rockies lost for the second straight night to the San Diego Padres 5-4. It was another up-and-down game in which the Rockies were down early, got back into it, then watched as the bullpen gave up a gut-wrenching home run to lead the Rockies down the losing path for the 51st time in 2015.
Chad Bettis was pretty good. He allowed three runs on three hits in six innings. He gave up three walks and struck out. He gave up a 3rd inning home run to Austin Hedges, then didn’t allow a run until Matt Kemp’s double in the 6th inning that gave the Padres two more runs.
The outing was slightly strange. Bettis was efficient, only delivering 80 pitches in his six innings of work, but only 46 of those pitches were strikes. He got outs, but the balls in the strike zone seemed to get hit, while he had very few swings and misses. With just 80 pitches and a Rockies bullpen that might be one of their worst, it could be argued that Bettis should have stayed in the for the 7th inning. However, Walt Weiss decided to pinch hit Wilin Rosario, who doubled in a run.
The problem for the Rockies is that moves like Weiss made in the top of the 7th fit into conventional baseball wisdom. With a chance to do some damage, the pitcher is removed in favor of a big bat like Rosario. However, the basic baseball fundamentals don’t work out when the bullpen is as bad as it is for the Rockies. It almost seems inevitable that the Rockies pen is going to give up some runs, which nearly nullifies the performance from the pinch hitter.
Much like the Rockies starting pitching putting the pressure on the offense, the bullpen can put pressure onto the starters. If a starter doesn’t have the best stuff in the world, or if he gives up a few early runs, he knows that he has to be nearly perfect or the bullpen is going to have to pick up additional innings, which usually means they will be giving up additional runs.
For Bettis, and the rest of the Rockies starters, frankly, there has to come a point in time where three runs over six innings isn’t a good start every time. Of course, baseball defines that total as a “quality start.” The problem is, three runs over six innings might be a pretty good start, but it really isn’t great. The Rockies shouldn’t aspire for their starters to have a 4.50 ERA every game (which is what three runs in six innings equates to), they should aspire to dominate their opponent. Of course every starter is doing his best to be his best, but at some point, the quality start shouldn’t be what gets pointed to in every start.
A six-inning, three-run performance should be something that is acceptable, but not pleasing. It should be the mark that a team points to and believes that the starter gave them a chance to win. However, the offense shouldn’t have to win every game, every now and then, an offense needs to point to a pitcher and say that he didn’t give them a chance to win, he nearly single-handidly won the game for them. Beyond Jorge De La Rosa, no Rockies pitcher has done that in 2015.
The Rockies are on the road to nowhere in 2015. It’s a lonely, but familiar road for them. Somehow, some way, they are hoping that their fortunes can turn and the road can lead them to the promised land. However, it isn’t going to be a smooth ride. It is going to take discipline and tough decisions for the Rockies to turn this thing around.