Saturday, June 02, 2007

From Luck to Suck

The Rockies are doing more and more every day to further the impression that their winning streak was nothing more than a lucky fluke, and that they really are as bad as that shitaceous 18-27 record they sported before going on their fortuitious seven-game tear. Then, they had strong starters, stellar relievers, and just the right amount of offense, without committing any egregious defensive lapses -- in other words, the way that you win ballgames. Now it's back to the offense taking nine-inning catnaps, the starting pitcher trying to do too much to compensate for the bats' doldrums and turning into the Hindenburg as a result, and the bullpen going back to their leaky selves. In other words, the Rockies lost the winning streak and then two more, getting shut down tonight by a rookie pitcher that the Reds pulled out of their ass and looking limp and uninspired in a 4-2 final. They're 2-3 on the homestand with five more games left against Central doormats Cincinnati and Houston, but it remains to be seen if they can even beat them.

Considering the momentum that they entered the Cards series with, splitting is as disappointing as if they lost three of four. I was in attendance last night to witness the 7-3 clunker, which looked moderately hopeful until Juan Encarnacion, yes Juan Encarnacion, hit a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning to give the Redbirds a lead they'd never relinquish. At least we had great seats (sixteen rows back from homeplate) and got three more autographs (Ryan Spilborghs, Jeff Baker, and Kaz Matsui) which prevented the night from being a total wash. They really needed to win today, and, well, they didn't. Bobby Livingston, who had made a grand total of one previous career start and allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings, shut them down until the seventh, where a mishandled grounder gave them their first run, practically by accident. In other words, the Rockies are back to doing splendid flounder imitations and I'm starting to remember again why I was so frustrated about this team before a week of seeming luck took the pain away. Now it's coming back. Oy.

Jeff Francis goes tomorrow in a game which both my sisters and myself will be attending -- which means they should win, considering how well he's been pitching lately -- so if they happen to extend the losing skid to four, I'm going to be in a foul mood indeed. Then again, even Francis can't win if the offense that scored five runs in two games shows up, instead of the offense that scored 14 runs in the two games beforehand. Also, tonight's horrid lineup didn't help. Jeff Baker was inserted for Garrett Atkins, and managed to ground out with the bases loaded in the seventh to squander one of the Rockies' best scoring chances. Hurdle kept batting the hot hand, Brad Hawpe, sixth, and played Jamey Carroll as well, who's not even hitting his weight. Combine this with Yorvit Torrealba and the pitcher's spot, and you have four black holes in a nine-man lineup -- not the way you can win games. Tonight's starter, Taylor Buchholz, was victimized by a three-run fourth inning, right after he spent the bottom of the third running the bases -- so even when he did get a hit, it didn't work out.

And of course, the Rockies, not content with just losing the game, had to go and lose Matt Holliday as well. The details of what happened are pretty sketchy, but apparently he somehow hurt his head in the dugout between innings and had to leave the game with what the team is labeling a contusion. Clint Hurdle is trying to pass it off as a mishap innocently suffered since Holliday is a big guy and the dugout ceilings are low, but he only said that Holliday banged his head hard enough to warrant removal and cut off follow-up questions. Now call me a suspicious bird, but I'm a little leery that tonight, out of all nights, should be the one where Holliday develops a terminal attack of clumsiness and concusses himself on a ceiling. At least nobody else was leaving the game, so it wasn't a Carlos Zambrano/Michael Barrett-type scuffle such as took place in the Windy City today -- the batterymates got into a shoving and punching match after a tough inning and had to be dragged apart by coaches. Still, it makes me wonder if Holliday was just a little frustrated and ended up getting a flukey injury because of it. My younger sister will be very upset if he's not at Photo Day tomorrow, as she's deeply in love with him and has been waiting all season to get a picture with him, but I'll be more upset if Holliday was taking out his frustration and ended up costing himself and the team some games without his services. If it's enough to land him on the DL, then the Rockies are even more screwed than they generally are. With Atkins slumping, losing Holliday would cut out half of the core which includes Helton and Hawpe, and if they didn't really have that great shakes of an offense with them, they'll be swinging wet noodles without them.

There is nothing more aggravating than discovering that an encouraging win streak might have been smoke and mirrors, following it up with a three-game skid, and then losing your star player in a suspicious accident which might have been self-inflicted out of frustration. Why do the Rockies do this to me, and why do I love them so much?

On another note, Adam Wainwright turned in another sparkling start tonight, recording 7 IP with 1 run allowed, 4 walks, and 6 K's. True, it was against the light-hitting and light-weight Astros, who just broke a 10-game losing streak and will probably still beat the Rockies, but one has to start somewhere. And yet again, he got screwed out of the win, but at least the Cards got it -- why couldn't they wait until they got to Houston to do that? They scored seven runs in a ninth-inning uprising to flatten the Astros 8-1, but since Adam was already out, he didn't get the decision. Grr. I wish he would have pitched last night, as that would have taken a tiny bit of the sting out of watching the Rockies getting their behinds handed to them. If they can't recover and take the next two from the Reds, or at least two from the Astros, or generally play well at Coors during their long homestands, then... well, they're fucked, but we might have known that already.

Le sigh.

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