Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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Everyone knows that in baseball you can ride high one week and be laid low the very next. The Yankees are running their entire season on the principle. But the retribution rained down upon the Rockies after sweeping one lousy series, at home, over a pretty crummy Reds team, seems completely out of proportion. First Barmes goes down, a cruel blow. The Clint Hurdle's daughter returns to the hospital. Jay Witasick and Matt Holliday get owies on their fingies. Then finally the White Sox breeze into town and obliterate Colorado by an aggregate 26-9. What have we done to deserve this?
Well, besides fielding a truly awful baseball club. Let's face facts. The Rockies had to take a bitter pill sooner or later after years of bad signings and neglect of the farm system, but the 2005 product regardless of its causes is bereft of offensive pop, missing a single dominant starting pitcher, and has a bullpen that past some decent one-inning, every-other-day guys (Fuentes, Cortes, Witasick, sporadically Marcos Carvajal) is a house of horrors. Not that it makes a difference, but I have serious questions about their manager's game-handling as well. (Why not double-switch in the seventh so David Cortes could potentially go more than one inning? He only threw six pitches in a 1-2-3 inning, and then Matt Anderson came in, game over.)
I attended this game in person, and it would have been four hours of misery if I wasn't a Chicago guy and a White Sox fan. Orlando Hernandez and Jeff Francis were both ineffective early but settled down, and a decent 5-4 game was going on in the middle innings. The Rockies' defense looked sharp early as Cory Sullivan leaped to take extra bases away from Tadahito Iguchi in the second and Danny Ardoin threw out Pablo Ozuna stealing in the first and second.
Then the Rockies' bullpen took over and all **** broke loose. Matt Anderson had a remarkable 0-inning, 4-hit, 5-run appearance in which the Rockies couldn't even make outs the White Sox were giving away, as Garrett Atkins fumbled a sacrifice attempt by Chris Widger. After Carvajal relieved him, allowed all his inherited runners to score, and sent in one of his own for good measure, Bobby Seay came on for a brutal 9th in which Joe Crede and Frank Thomas went back-to-back off the bench and four runs total crossed. J.D. Closser hit a pinch-hit upper-deck homer that brushed the right-field foul pole (sailing, actually, not 20 feet from where I was sitting) to reward Colorado fans who stayed until the bitter end, but it didn't make it any more than one run less bitter.
Francis took his first career loss at Coors Field with 12-hit, 2-walk, 5-run outing that certainly wasn't terrific but at least kept his team in the game. I'm always impressed when a Coors starter gets tagged early (three in the first) and manages to hang on for six innings. It shows something. I don't know what exactly, but I am grasping at straws here in case you couldn't tell. The Rockies only managed eight hits, two by Sullivan and two by Eddy Garabito. Todd Helton walked and was stranded three times; that clanking noise you hear coming from the Colorado dugout is Helton's batting-helmeted head being banged against the wall. Todd, demand a trade, it hurts to see you like this.
I normally don't focus too much on the opposing team's offensive numbers in my recaps (wouldn't that be depressing?), but it is too impressive not to note that among Chicago's 22 hits were four guys with 3-hit nights (Ozuna, Aaron Rowand, Carl Everett, and Jermaine Dye). Only six of the twenty-two were extra-base hits as the Sox nickel-and-dimed the Rockies to death. Carvajal and Anderson combined to allow six singles in the eighth alone. And that's all there is to say about that, really.
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