Maybe we all should put down our cups of Rockies’ Kool-Aid for a while. After a promising 5-1 start, the purple and black were swept in a three-game series by the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. For me, it brought back painful reminders of the 2012 season.
Monday, starter Jorge de la Rosa put the club behind the eight ball as soon as he gave up a three-run home run to Hunter Pence. The highlight of the night was Carlos Gonzalez launching a Madison Bumgarner mistake into McCovey Cove.
Tuesday had all the makings of a Rockie win. Most significantly, they scored five runs (Five!) in the second inning alone. Opposing teams are lucky to score five over an entire game in the Bay Area. Later, Troy Tulowitzki launched a homer to left off the Giants’ Tim Lincecum.
With a 6-2 Rox lead going into the bottom of the sixth, the game seemed to be over. However, Juan Nicasio, who looked decent through five innings, walked the first two batters of the inning, forcing the hand of Walt Weiss to go to Adam Ottavino out of the bullpen.
Ottavino proceeded to serve up an opposite field three-run jack to Brandon Crawford, a shortstop who hit four home runs all of last year. After that, everything spiraled downhill for the Rockies. Matt Belisle and Wilton Lopez (who has been the most disappointing Rockie so far this season) wound up giving up the lead in their innings, while the offense was shut down by the Giant bullpen. Only the Rockies would put up a five-run inning at AT&T and find a way to lose.
Tulo and company had a chance to salvage a game Wednesday afternoon behind what they hoped would be the usual reliable performance from Jeff Francis. Ultimately, Francis was so bad that he didn’t even last long enough to get an at-bat. He wound up giving up seven runs in not even two full innings
of work. And once again, the crafty Barry Zito, who is now 8-2 against Colorado, stifled the Rockie offense by eliminating any chance of a rally with mixing speeds and throwing strikes.
What’s most alarming about being swept by the Giants is that the Rockies have now lost nine in a row to their division counterpart going back to last season. That number doesn’t bode well since these teams match up 15 more times in 2013.
Here’s what we know to be certain about the 2013 Rockies. They can still put up clunkers like the game Wednesday similar to what they did most of 2012. As great as last week was, the Padres and Brewers don’t compare to the level of the Giants.
Besides the obvious disparity in starting pitching between the Rox and Giants, I see two major differences between these teams. First, the Giants play consistently good baseball. Throughout this series, San Francisco hitters came to the plate with the chance to either move a baserunner or make a Rockie pitcher pay for previous mistakes in the inning. They executed in both of those areas. Overall, the Rockies didn’t play good baseball against the Giants.
Secondly, the Giants have more mental toughness and desire to win than the Rockies do. You think the Rox would see a chance to win during a game where they’re down 6-2 in the sixth inning in the most difficult park to score runs? I don’t. But when Nicasio walked the first two hitters in the inning, the Giants smelled blood in the water and made him and the Rockies’ bullpen pay.
Unfortunately, the Rockies can’t just play the Padres every game. They have to start earning respect around baseball by beating good teams, at home and on the road. Until they can do that, they’ll be glad they don’t have to see Bruce Bochy’s crew for another month.