Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Cubs 10, Rockies 9
2008-05-30 20:47
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I tuned in to the Rockies game today in the middle innings and with the team up 9-1, I thought about writing a quick game post before I had to go to work. That would have been foolish. As I found to my horror during my lunch break, the Rockies bullpen (and overextended starter Aaron Cook) blew the entire lead in two innings, and Colorado lost its fifth in a row.

Some of the young injury replacement players who have been struggling had good games with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field -- Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Baker, and Jonathan Herrera all had two hits. But the Rockies are going to continue to be unable to develop any confidence, and win with any regularity, until they fix this problem with the pitching. Usually Aaron Cook's starts are the only games that Colorado can count on winning, but the problem with everyone else on the staff is now wrecking those chances too. Clint Hurdle shouldn't have sent Cook out for the seventh, but had no better options, and after a single, a homer, and a single, Manny Corpas came in and gave up a single, a double, and a homer.

It's true that the conditions at Wrigley Field were a little ridiculous -- Mark DeRosa's big lead-changing home run was a pop-up anywhere else, save maybe Houston or Philadelphia. But shouldn't Rockies pitchers, of all breeds, understand how to keep the ball down? Evidently not. This year is beginning to resemble 2005, when Colorado began the season with a bullpen of nearly all rookies and seemed surprised when they started blowing every lead that was presented them. In that season, and in the last two, Dan O'Dowd has done a good job of finding cheap or free talent to fix the inevitable bullpen flareups. This season that may be too much to ask, given the Rockies' concurrent problems with the starting rotation, injuries to regulars, hitting with runners on, and so forth. In fact, it's even more likely that the Rockies bullpen will get worse as the year goes on as veteran guys with proven value such as Brian Fuentes and Matt Herges get dealt to contending teams.

Are we standing in the face of a 100-loss apocalypse here? Boy, I sure hope not. It feels like it at times, although with players like Aaron Cook, Todd Helton, and Matt Holliday the elements of respectability are in place. There's also the return of Troy Tulowitzki to take into account. Tulo can't pitch the seventh inning, but he is the loudest cheerleader on the team and he flashes the best shortstop glove in the National League. If the bullpen's performance improves markedly after Tulowitzki gets back to health, we must against adjust upwards our measure of the rookie's role in the team's spectacular run last season.

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