Once again, I was a fool to believe. Clint Hurdle made a series of head-scratching decisions in the eighth inning of a tie game, not setting up either of his best left-handers to face Barry Bonds and twiddling his thumbs absently as Jorge Julio made things worse and worse for himself. By bringing in Jeremy Affeldt to face Bonds (or, even more imaginatively, leaving in Brian Fuentes, who had pitched a bolsteringly effective seventh), Hurdle could have given the Rockies' offense more chances to break through. Barry Zito though hardly dominant held down a mostly righthanded Colorado lineup (Brad Hawpe hit only his third homer of the season off of a lefty in the fifth) and Josh Fogg gave another one of his trademark over-his-head road performances only to be hung out to dry by Hurdle and the offense.
I don't know how many times I can write the same thing. I feel like it's my role to keep Rockies fans realistic, but I want to feel genuine hope as much as anybody. As I wrote yesterday, it's all in front of them. They "control their own destiny," to borrow a term from another, lesser sport. If Colorado can just keep winning series, there's little chance one of the teams ahead of them in the wild card race is capable of playing that much better. But why should anybody be fooled? This team has never played like a contender on the road in the second half of a season. Ever. In 1995, as some of the real diehards may remember, the Rockies got off to a big lead in the division that dwindled and disappeared with a ballistic path in the late summer. Only the fact that it was a strike-shortened season meant that the season ran out of games before the Rockies finished choking, and they got the wild card.
This is going out to Clint Hurdle: Wake up. Your job is not safe. If it is, it shouldn't be. It's time to start managing like the team is down 0-3 in a seven-game series. Multiple-inning appearances from your closer, bullpen appearances from your best starters (not that Clint has many of them left), nothing should be held back in reserve. Also, you shouldn't have anybody but pitchers bunt. If the Rockies are going to make a miracle run, it's going to be by clubbing people into submission. I have long argued that the franchise will never win consistently until it has the pitching and offensive execution to win close games, but this isn't about winning consistently, it's about winning now, and what the Rockies have is a flawed team in a bad league that by chance has a way better offense than any other team in its division. They need Brad Hawpe hitting homers, not moving guys over. If Clint doesn't know this, I bet first-base coach Glenallen Hill does. Interim manager!