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These are the games that good teams win. They are also the games that bad teams lose.
The Colorado Rockies are the latter, and therefore they lost this time. The final score was 4-3.
Jordan Lyles was very good again on Monday, but he spoiled a really good outing with something that has become a trend for him. He struggled in the 6th inning. Through five innings, Lyles had given up just one run. He had thrown just 69 pitches through the first five innings and was giving the Rockies a chance to win.
Then came the 6th inning. After two quick outs, Lyles abandoned his game plan and started to miss his spots. Instead of pitching to contact like he had been throughout the first five innings, it looked as if the righty was trying to be too fine. As Rockies fans have quickly realized, that usually doesn’t bode well. With two strikes on Maikei Franco, the momentum shifted. Franco hit a single, then Lyles walked Chase Utley on a 3-2 pitch. With two on and the game tied, it suddenly was the turning point in the game. Lyles challenged Odubel Herrera who doubled, driving in two runs. Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz then singled to score Herrera and the Phillies took a 4-1 lead.
For Lyles, the potential is clearly there. He is fun to watch pitch in the early going. He does a great job of getting ground balls. On Monday he induced three ground ball double plays. His pitch count stayed low and he was well on his way to going deep into the game.
However, as every pitcher has to figure out, the next step is to avoid the big inning. With two outs it was one thing to give up a single, but when Lyles walked Utley immediately after that, he was in trouble. Instead of minimizing damage, he allowed it to get even worse.
It is clear that the talent is there, but Lyles has to trust his stuff and know that even when he is starting to get tired, that he is able to get outs if he attacks the strike zone.
Lyles might have to take some heat, but the loss, once again, wasn’t his fault. When a starting pitcher gives up four runs at Coors Field, they shouldn’t find themselves on the losing end of the decision too often.
The Rockies offense has been lifeless. Cole Hamels is a very good starting pitcher, but the Rockies had plenty of chances to get to him. The team seems to be plagued with selfishness. Instead of getting the ball in play by shortening up swings and hitting the ball in the other direction, the Rockies continue to strike out on a consistent basis. In four straight games they have had at least 11 strike outs.
Nothing stalls an inning like a strike out. When a batter gets the ball in play, good things happen. Even if the ball is hit right at someone, they still have to field the ball and throw it. There are plenty of chances for things to go wrong and for good things to happen for the batters.
A strikeout, however, gives the offense no chance to make something good happen.
The Rockies simply can’t stop tripping over themselves. They must start taking good at-bats, fouling pitches off and hitting to the opposite field. The strikeouts are a huge concern. If the want to become a respectable team, they have to shorten up their swings and start making contact. It will be a very long year if they don’t improve that aspect of their team.