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Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.
The Colorado Rockies gave away enough free passes to the Padres that they basically were forced to win the game on Tuesday night at Coors Field.
Tyler Matzek, the Rockies starter, pitched five innings and gave the Padres six free passes. He was frequently behind in the count and once again struggled with his command. The only thing that kept the Padres from blowing out the Rockies for the second straight night was the fact that Matzek was able to get three double plays in his five innings of work.
Matzek left the game in line for the victory, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. The Rockies watched the Padres score four runs in the top of the 8th inning, giving them a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. The runs came across when the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, but the starting pitching, both on Tuesday night and throughout the greater part of the season, is to blame for the Rockies failures.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss could be questioned for his bullpen management in the 7th and 8th innings. With two outs and two on in the 7th, Weiss took out Brooks Brown in favor of Rafael Betancourt. Betancourt got out of the jam by getting Justin Upton to fly out to left field. He then was asked to come back out for the 8th inning. After Will Middlebrooks singled to start the 8th, Jedd Gyorko struck out, and Betancourt’s night was over.
Instead of sticking with Betancourt, Weiss went with Boone Logan to face the lefty Yonder Alonso. Logan showed his lack of command by hitting Alonso. Much to the surprise of many Rockies fans, Logan remained in the game to face not one righty, but four. The results were predictable and the Rockies lead was gone.
Questioning Weiss is easy in that situation, but managers often get questioned for bullpen moves when they start to get backed into a corner. When starting pitchers are routinely going five innings or less, the way a bullpen gets used isn’t the way that it was designed. Instead of relievers pitching in their roles, they are forced to pitch in different spots, which usually doesn’t go well.
The Rockies were coming off of a night in which the bullpen had to eat seven innings. They desperately needed Matzek to go deep into the game. Instead, he struggled with command and only lasted five. It forced Weiss to use his pen in ways that he probably doesn’t want to use them in.
The loss makes it five straight for a Rockies team that had started so hot. It is the exact reason why some fans weren’t as quick to jump onto the bandwagon when the team was off to a flying start. The signs were there. The club needed their starters to go deeper into games, but they weren’t able to.
Matzek walked six in five innings, Brooks Brown walked another and Logan hit a batter. Most of the time when a team gives eight free passes in a night, they don’t find themselves in a position to win a baseball game. The Rockies were fortunate enough to have the lead late in the game, but playing with fire has a predictable result. That happened on Tuesday.
The Rockies have to hope that things can change with Kyle Kendrick on the mound on Wednesday. The task won’t be an easy one. He takes on free agent prize James Shields, who sports a 2-0 record with a 2.84 ERA in his three starts. He has struck out 24 batters in those three starts.