Please, Please Let This Not Be the Annual West Coast Road Trip of Death
by Mark T.R. Donohue
Boy, that loss last night burned. You'd think with Jeff Francis on the mound the Rockies would at the very least be able to stay in a close one until the very late innings with Greg Maddux and the Padres, but the Channel's reception was as lousy as I've ever seen it yesterday. Dude couldn't throw a strike. I was surprised that Clint Hurdle didn't pull the plug on Jeff right after he walked in the first run in the second -- it was clear to me, if not the skipper, that Francis simply had no command whatsoever and the only way he could throw a strike was by a grooving a BP offspeed pitch right down Main Street. Had Taylor Buchholz come in down three instead of seven, things might have gone differently. And Hurdle made another questionable decision last night. He started Willy Taveras even though Willy obviously was still in pain and couldn't run more than 60% of his normal pace. (This still allowed Willy to outrun a Baltimore chop in the top of the third, which should give you an idea of what T's normal pace is like.) After Matt Holliday's double (which should have been a triple) the score could have been 3-1 San Diego, but instead it was 7-0.
This is a better team than the one that showed up last night. Sort of. The Rockies are never good on the road, particularly in the second half, particularly particularly in the division, but even so, that was pathetic. Now Taveras is going on the disabled list, which means it's put up or shut up time for Ryan Spilborghs, and Kaz Matsui and Troy Tulowitzki move up in the lineup. Any idea who our next new starting pitcher is? I sure don't have one. Byung-Hyun Kim was released by the Diamondbacks, though. Wouldn't that be delicious ironing indeed if BK came back to pitch the Rockies into the playoffs? That'll be the day.
I'm really, really worried. Can you tell? The loss last night was one of those that registered far more than a single game in the standings. Here the Rockies are, their biggest road game of the second half so far, with their ace on the mound, and the game was a complete non-issue after three innings. Can I blame management for that? Only in the sense that it is by their mercy that Clint Hurdle continues to steer the ship in the indifferent manner befitting a career second-division manager. Maybe it's Bob Apodaca's fault that Francis is broken all of a sudden (the television guys felt that the Channel was overstriding, which seems fairly easy to correct -- just tie his legs together with a clothesline or something while he practices) but Hurdle should have been more on top of Taveras's injury and far, far quicker with the hook when Francis walked five guys in the second inning.