Series Preview: Rockies (47-34) vs. Dbacks (50-30)

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Friday, June 30th 7:40pm: Jon Gray (0-0 4.38) vs. Robbie Ray (8-3 2.87)

Jon Gray makes his first start since being put on the DL in early April. He may be just what the Rockies need as they are right in the midst of their worst losing streak of the season. Along with Gray coming back, the Rockies also had a day off on Thursday that hopefully gave them some time to gather themselves. It will be hard to expect a lot out of Gray who hasn’t pitched with the team in quite some time, but they need all they can get, as well as some offense for their series opener.

Saturday, July 1st 8:10pm: Tyler Chatwood (6-8 4.32) vs. Zack Greinke (9-4 3.08)

Tyler Chatwood was not terrific in his last road start and facing Arizona is not much of a welcoming on the road. With how they have been playing, and the fact that Arizona is not a hitter friendly place, Chatwood will still have to be good. Facing Greinke is no easy task either as he has returned back to his ace status form. Greinke struggled against the Rockies last year, but he has been strong this year giving the Rockies another tough pitching matchup. Even with Arizona being hitter friendly, they have strong pitchers who pitch well at home, so getting the offense back on track will be difficult.

Sunday, July 2nd 2:10pm: German Marquez (5-4 4.38) vs. Taijuan Walker (6-3 3.50)

Walker has made two starts against the Rockies this year. In one, he got a loss but only got two runs of support. In the other game, Arizona backed him with 16 runs of support, a game that was a terrible loss for the Rockies and what started their losing streak. The Rockies need to get some revenge on both Arizona and Walker so hopefully they can explode for some runs in both this game and the series. They really just need to end their losing streak, but taking a couple of games would be a great turn of events.

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How much worse can it get?

        Jeff Chiu AP Photo

Before this current Rockies losing streak, you could double their other highest losing streak in the season and it still wouldn’t reach eight games. Not many teams in the span of a season will lose eight straight, almost NO team would lose eight straight that was 20 games over .500, but that is just what the Rockies have done.

Over these eight games, just about everything has gone wrong at least once. There have been errors, there has been bad base running, there have been bullpen collapses, there have been blown saves, there have been short starts, and there has been offensive disappearances. Really, these are all things that most teams will go through over the course of the season. The disturbing thing for the Rockies is that they have all come during the same stretch.

Sure, the last couple of games have had better starting pitching, but they have also had bullpen pitchers giving up runs and the offense failing to score runners. The Rockies scored two runs in the very first inning on Wednesday, yet after that they scored only one more run and really failed to threaten again.

Eight straight losses and still 13 games above .500. Is that a sign of a team overachieving through the first two and a half months, or is it a team going through a particularly rough stretch? It seems to be a little bit of both right now, but there have also been injuries and slumps from players expected to do more. Jake McGee is slumping as a reliever, as is Ottavino. Story is a strike out machine and Reynolds has come back to earth.

With the injuries, you have seen Anderson go back to the DL after coming off of the DL. Cargo is on the DL but was also struggling mightily. Jon Gray has been on the sideline with only three starts on the year. Tom Murphy has recently come off the DL, but is also slumping to start the year. David Dahl was recently moved to the 60-day DL despite being expected back in mid to late-may. But injuries is something every team goes through.

It is simply hard to pinpoint exactly why this team has fallen off so drastically so quickly, but it also seems as though they could be poised for a bounce back as no team can struggle for this long, especially one as talented as the Rockies are this year.

Colorado gets an off day on Thursday, a day Bud Black hopefully uses effectively to rally the troops. They then head out to Arizona for a set with the second place Dbacks and they get a much needed return of Jon Gray in game one. Whether he can return to form so quickly will remain to be seen, but Gray is a staff ace and the most experienced starter save Tyler Chatwood.

Rox drop seventh straight in marathon

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There is no doubt that this is the roughest stretch the Rockies have had this year and hopefully it does not continue much longer. In a 14 inning game, the Rockies got offense in only one inning but had great pitching throughout. It seems if it’s not one thing, it’s another during this stretch. The offense was basically nonexistent after the sixth, but the pitching was terrific.

Jeff Hoffman was a bright spot in this game as he went 6.2 innings. He allowed two runs and he would have saved the bullpen, had the game ended after the ninth instead of going five more innings. He did walk three batters, but those were the only batters walked in the game, another positive sign for Colorado and the staff.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies made the Giants pay for an intentional walk to Arenado. With two on and two out, Mark Reynolds hit a three-run shot to give the Rockies their only scoring of the day. It was much needed, but in the end it turned out to be too little, though who knows if they would have been able to hold a bigger lead anyways.

In the eighth inning, the 3-2 lead would end up disappearing. Scott Oberg allowed a leadoff single before being removed for McGee, but McGee could not keep him from scoring. With a couple of singles, the Giants tied the game for what would eventually send it to extra innings.

Chad Qualls would come in the game in the 14th to try and keep the game going, but that he could not do. He would allow a double before giving up the walk-off single to Denard Span. After so many good innings by Greg Holland, Chris Rusin, and Mike Dunn, it was all erased in an instant by Qualls who has really not been that good this year.

The Rockies need to take this last game from the Giants. It is a day game which means the ball will be flying a little more, so hopefully the offense can finally get things going and the pitching can build off the positives of Tuesday night. This is a rough stretch, but the Rockies can still get back on track as they are far from out of it, especially this early in the season.

Rockies can’t figure out Samardzija in loss

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The Giants pretty much dominated this game from beginning to end and they gave the Rockies their sixth straight loss. There is not getting around it, the Rockies are in a funk. The starting pitching is struggling, the offense is struggling, and the bullpen is struggling. There is really no part of this team that is playing well right now. Even the normally sure-handed defense is hitting a rough streak, possibly because of their extended time spent on the field while the pitchers struggle.

With a 9-2 loss against the Giants, the Rockies are officially in salvage mode. They need to figure something out and it seems like it should start with the starters. With a starter being able to work quickly and get deep into a game, it could solve multiple things at once. It would help the fielders because they wouldn’t need to stand around while a pitcher walks the bases loaded. It will help preserve some of the bullpen as they have been extremely overworked over the last week and a half. And it will also help get the Rockies a win, something they are in the need of to snap this streak.

The offense is in a funk too, but that is just something that happens, but it is also something that needs to change. Desmond and Story are middle of the order strikeout machines. Charlie has struggled from the leadoff spot recently, despite leading the league in hits. Nolan has not shredded the California teams as he typically has and Cargo was moved to the DL yesterday in the midst of one of his worst season starts.

You’d have to imagine that this is really where Bud Black is worth a lot over someone like Walt Weiss. Black has been through stretches like this before, both in his playing career and coaching career, so he should know how to approach his players to keep that motivated and working hard.

Baseball is a great game because it is not a sprint, it is a marathon. A rough stretch like this late in the season can be a death sentence, but this stretch comes at the end of June where the Rockies still have a lot of time to figure things out. With the All-Star only a couple of weeks away, the Rockies can get through the stretch, hopefully getting back to the way they started, and then gather themselves after the week long break to attack the division with the same fervor they started the season with.

Series Preview: Rockies (47-31) vs. Giants (27-51)

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Monday, June 26th 8:08pm: German Marquez (5-3 3.92) vs. Jeff Samardzija (2-9 4.74)

After getting swept by the Dodgers and losing two to the Dbacks at home, the Rockies are desperate for a good series. Playing the second worst team in the Majors is definitely something that can help them, but it could also demoralize them if they play poorly. You still have to take the Giants seriously and the Rockies NEED to take this series. Marquez opens the series up and he really needs to get deep into this game. The bullpen has struggled mightily and the Rockies would really love to limit his use.

Tuesday, June 27th 8:15pm: Jeff Hoffman (4-1 4.29) vs. Matt Cain (3-7 5.54)

Hoffman got blown up in his start against Arizona and will need to rebound against the Giants. They have a poor offense and this is a late game by the bay which definitely slows the ball down, but he will still need to pitch well. Facing another pitcher the Rockies are familiar with, Matt Cain, may either hurt or harm their chances of scoring runs, but Cain is long gone from his old self and the Rockies have gotten to him for some runs a time or two in the past. This is a good chance for the Rockies to hopefully gain some games back on Arizona and LA, but if they can’t do that, they need to at least keep pace with them.

Wednesday, June 28th 1:45pm: Kyle Freeland (8-5 3.70) vs. Ty Blach (4-5 4.86)

As many of the Rockies pitchers in the past week, Freeland was not very strong in his outing against LA. Freeland can rebound with a day game against the Giants and like the first two pitchers in this series, he needs to get some length. As a rookie, some hiccups as the season go on are expected, but it would also be nice to see how he responds to some difficult times out. Blach was pretty good against the Rockies and only lost due to Nolan hitting his walk-off home run. The Rockies would love to just take this series with great pitching and strong offense, but nothing is as easy as you want things to be, especially in a week of struggles.

 

Dodgers sweep in sloppy game

Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

Neither team played this one well, with the Dodgers playing ugly baseball early and then trading it off to the Rockies late. And as the old saying goes, it isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish. With a collective eight wild pitches, thirteen walks, and two errors between the teams, this was an ugly and strange game from the very beginning. Unfortunately for the Rockies, they choked away a lead in what was probably Adam Ottavino’s worst performance of his career, and one of the worst relief performances in the majors thus far.

It’s hard to put so much blame on Ottavino, but this loss is on him. With the Rockies ahead by a score of 6-4 in the seventh, Ottavino forget how to pitch and choked away a lead to a team that has the best closer in baseball.

With two men on, Jake McGee was removed for Ottavino, who is normally pretty good in high stress appearances. Today was just not his day and the two run lead was gone in a flash. With two outs in the inning, Yasmani Grandal came to the plate with the bases loaded. Ottavino then through a wild pitch, which advanced all the runners and scored a run. If that was not bad enough, Ottavino then threw a pitch so bad that it scored both Dodgers’ runners to make a one run lead turn into a one run deficit. The pitch did take a bad ricochet off of Wolters glove, but with runners already advancing on a wild pitch and a batter walking in the inning, Ottavino was clearly all over the place.

The train wreck of an inning was bad enough, but it was only the start of the disaster as Ottavino collapsed even more in the eighth. Ottavino would allow a double and walk a batter to put two on, but he would then throw another wild pitch to score a run. He would then compound all of the terribleness into a final culmination of awful pitching by allowing Cody Bellinger to hit his second two-run home run of the game. This came after walking another batter and was also followed by a single to end Ottavino’s day.

Now really, this was a game that was poorly played and saw struggles from everyone, but the Rockies, in their recent struggles, found a way to throw this game away, and Ottavino is really the person to blame. Tyler Anderson did exit with an injury, which almost guarantees his return to the DL as he only threw 55 pitches and made only two appearances since his last stint.

The Rockies play the Giants in a week they hope to do a 180 in as any amount of continued struggles will continue to reduce confidence and may send the team into a downward spiral. For many fans, this is the late June swoon that is a recurrent thing for the Colorado Rockies, but you have to believe with a young staff, experienced manager, and team leaders like Greg Holland, Nolan Arenado, and veterans like Desmond and Reynolds that this team will be able to turn things around.

Rox drop fourth straight

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The Rockies needed a good start from Tyler Chatwood on Saturday. They needed him to get deep into the game. They needed him to be sharp as he was facing Clayton Kershaw. They got none of those things from him.

The Dodgers hardly earned this win, tallying only one more hit than the Rockies with six, but they were handed this win by Chatwood who couldn’t locate a pitch to save his life. Chatwood walked eight batters in the game, and that took only 3.1 innings to achieve. It is hard to fault Chatwood when the offense didn’t do anything either, but walking eight batters is just inexcusable for a major league pitcher.

One of the worst walks Chatwood gave up was a four pitch walk to Kershaw with the bases loaded. Not only could he not throw a strike to the pitcher, it came with the bases loaded and gave the Dodgers the easiest run they will score all season. The inning started with a Joc Pederson home run and perhaps that unraveled Chatwood. He allowed another hit in the inning, but the big fault was four walks including the Kershaw walk.

The Rockies failed once again to score in the first inning, a thing that they needed in both Friday’s loss and Saturday’s. The Rockies got two hits and a walk off of Kershaw, all with one out, but failed to put the ball in play with both Desmond and Story striking out. Having the middle of the order fail to even put the ball in play, even when facing the league’s best pitcher, is a sign that the offense is struggling.

The Rockies only had five hits in the game, but they had all the opportunity they needed in the first and failed to execute. This is a stretch of games where nearly every facet of this time is struggling and their is only one real positive to take away. The Rockies gave themselves a cushion of games up to this point to where they can afford a slight slide. As long as they rebound soon and get back to form, they will still be able to earn a wild card spot while fighting for the NL West title.

The Dodgers seem to be cementing themselves as the best team in the NL and perhaps the major leagues as well, but any team can go through a bad stretch and there are unsustainables in the Dodgers lineup. Cody Bellinger cannot keep up his power stretch, Justin Turner will not hit .400 over the course of the year, and Kenley Jansen will not, not walk a batter over 162 games. These are only three players, but any amount of struggles will help the Dodgers come back to earth.