Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Fresh Hell
2008-04-22 22:45
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I went to the ballgame tonight with one of my best friends and my girlfriend. I was glad we were going to this game in particular, for several reasons. One, Jeff Francis is my favorite Colorado player and he was due for a victory. After getting cuffed around in his first two starts (and in the Rockies' rain-aborted Opening Day game in St. Louis) the Channel pitched extremely well in his last start, a showdown with San Diego's Jake Peavy. The Rockies won that game (eventually) but obviously Francis didn't get the win.

I felt pretty confident that this was his night, facing the Phillies and noted family man Brett Myers. Going into the game the Rockies had blown two they should have won, one in Houston and one at home to Philadelphia. In both cases it was the bullpen that was to blame, punting perfectly good leads granted it by the offense and the starter. Tonight was supposed to be the night the Colorado relievers redeemed themselves. Didn't happen. Manny Corpas got whacked around in the ninth with the Rockies leading by one, Clint Hurdle made a peculiar decision to walk the badly slumping Ryan Howard in favor of the smoking hot Pat Burrell and Burrell immediately doubled in the loaded bases -- so much for that win.

The Rockies were troubled by defensive issues the whole evening. Clint Barmes got a spot start at shortstop and was having tremendous difficulty making straight throws to Todd Helton at first. Barmes and Jeff Baker, not a natural second baseman, missed tagging the sack twice for what should have been double plays. Helton committed an error at first in the ninth to begin Philadelphia's winning rally. Willy Taveras air-mailed a cutoff man, leading to a second-and-third situation where it should have been first and third. It was not a lot of fun to watch. At least Francis was able to hold things together for seven innings and put himself in a position to get a win. Naturally it was stolen from him, but that counts as progress. Jeff was troublingly wild, walking in a run and having difficulty locating all evening. It looked early on like he was going to put more stress still on the bullpen by getting sent to an early shower -- he'd thrown more than 70 pitches after four -- but he gutted it out and left with a lead. But it didn't take. Three straight games blown by the bullpen is pushing up against the point where everyone on the team starts to freak out. Soon the hitters start pressing because they think they have to score 10 runs to win every game. The starters start overthrowing because they don't expect to get any support. And the bullpen guys themselves start really going around in circles. This needs to stop now.

UPDATE: In my disgust over the state of the Rockies' bullpen, I completely forgot that during the game last night a rather comely female streaker made her way onto the Coors outfield grass and got down to her bra before security got to her. Jayson Werth, who was in centerfield at the time, had to cover his entire face in his glove to hide his uncontrollable laughter.

2008-04-23 10:45:57
1.   underdog
...The Channel?
2008-04-23 10:53:54
2.   fanerman
1 I think I've seen the nickname in use around here for awhile. But I don't know where it came from. Is there an origin story, Mark?
2008-04-23 12:58:53
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
1 , 2 Yeah, but it's not that exciting: Jeff Francis wears jersey #26, and the Rockies games are usually on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, channel 26 on my cable.
2008-04-23 13:27:48
4.   fanerman
3 Yeah that's sort of a letdown. I thought it had something to do with a body of water.

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