Friday Rockpile: Losing games that should've been won (and vice versa)

Doug Pensinger

All fans bemoan the "hard luck losses," games their favorite teams should have won if not for a bad bounce or a bad error, or bad at-bats with runners in scoring position. They often neglect to remember the lucky wins, though. The following is an unscientific examination of Rockies "should've" games; games they should have won, and games they should have lost.

Being a fan often precludes rationality. If everyone practiced stone-cold objectivity in how they evaluate their favorite teams, sports would become unimaginably dull. Everyone thinks that their crappy team is just one or two breaks away from becoming good; prospect X is going to be a star, struggling pitcher Y is about to turn it around, free agent signing Z is just the shot in the arm this team needs, etc. This kind of reasoning often requires completely unfounded leaps of faith ... but it could happen, right?

Another aspect of sports fan self-delusion is that a particular fan's favorite team is always super unlucky. Every loss is a result of some horrible bad break. What are the odds our guys go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position? How did we throw away that late lead? I can't believe those five straight seeing-eye singles the bad guys had against us! And so on, and so forth.

Of course, those losses stick out in memory far more often than do the victories accrued in the same fashion. Fans don't want to admit their own teams got lucky. But just because fans have selective amnesia about their teams doesn't necessarily mean they are wrong. It is entirely possible that certain teams have had more bad hops and more implausible losses than others. But since every team experiences so much failure over the course of a 162-game season, it's difficult to isolate who has had the worst go of it.

It sure feels like the Rockies have experienced some bad losses this year. Excruciating losses. Losses that boggle the mind both in their stupidity and WTF-ery. But I'm a Rockies fan. I follow all their games and experience all the highs and lows, and like all fans, the lows are harder to shake than the highs. Maybe I'm deluded and the Rockies have pulled off as many unjustified wins as losses. But I have that feeling ... surely the Rockies have gotten the short end of the stick more often in 2013.

So what follows is an unscientific look at the "should've" games. From Opening Day's extra-innings loss to the Brewers to yesterday's ______ to the Astros, I looked at which games were "should have won but lost" games and which were "should have lost but won" games. There are no hard and fast criteria for whether a game falls in either category; it's just a snap judgment by me, an admittedly biased fan. But I swear, I tried to be objective. Okay, here we go:

Should've Won, but Lost

April 1 in Milwaukee: I had this one in the maybe pile for a while, but decided to include it in the end. On Opening Day in Miller Park, with two outs in the eighth inning, the Rockies held a 3-1 lead and an 87% chance of winning the game. Wilton Lopez proceeded to give up a single to Ryan Braun and a double to Aramis Ramirez, erasing the lead. I mostly remember the game for Dexter Fowler re-tying the game with a two-out dinger in the bottom of the ninth, but those heroics were not enough as the Brewers walked off in the 10th. This game wasn't a travesty of a loss, but it was a bad beat nonetheless, and I'm including it in this list because I'm an irrational fan.

April 9 in San Francisco: Okay, this was a bad one. The Rockies had built up a 6-2 lead going into the sixth inning in San Francisco, based off a five-run rally in the second and a Troy Tulowitzki home run in the fifth. They were cruising along with a 94.1% chance of winning the game. Then came the bottom of the sixth. Saying the wheels came off for Juan Nicasio would be an understatement: started the inning walk, walk, opposite-field dinger from Brandon Crawford(!), single, single, sac bunt, intentional walk, single, double play. Well thank God for the double play! The Rockies lost the game, obviously.

April 21 in Denver: These are gonna get shorter, because they're getting depressing. The Rockies had a 4-2 lead against the D-Backs, at home, heading into the eighth. Matt Belisle gave up a run. Wilton Lopez was the guy trying to close it in the ninth, for some reason. He failed. The Rockies lost, 5-4.

April 27 in Phoenix: This one is kind of a cheat, since the Rockies never even held the lead in this game (it was tied, 2-2, for most of it, until the D-Backs walked off in the 10th). But let me submit the first inning for your approval:

That's right, four walks in one inning, but no runs scored. That's gotta be rare. The Rockies were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. It goes in the should've won pile.

May 3 in Denver: The Rockies, at home, were tied, 4-4, with the Rays for most of the game. They didn't score from innings five through 10. They went 0-for-9 with RISP (the Rays went 4-for-9). Just one lousy hit with RISP and it never would have gone to extras, in which the Rays put up a big inning.

May 8 in Denver: Yet another dumb loss at home, where the Rockies couldn't muster any late offense. The umpires get an assist on this one, as they blew a call at first base in the ninth, resulting in a Yankees run. Moving on ...

May 16 in Denver: Hey look, it's our old friends the Giants! Apparently not satisfied with a four-run comeback in San Fran, they mounted a six-run comeback at Coors Field. The Rockies held a 93.6% chance of winning in the third, after a Wilin Rosario three-run bomb. Spoiler alert: they didn't hold on. After a bunch of rinky-dink Giants stuff in the fourth and sixth, the Rockies found themselves down 8-6, which would be the final score.

May 25 in San Francisco: More Giants. More blown four-run leads. The Rockies had a 93.8% chance of winning when they led 4-0 in the sixth. Then lame things happened. In the 10th, Troy Tulowitzki hit a go-ahead home run. The Rockies lost on a walk-off inside the park home run.

May 27 in Houston: The Rockies were 3-for-18 with RISP in this game against the Astros. They lost by one. Shoulda won.

Should Have Lost, but Won

April 12: The Rockies trailed, 5-3, in the eighth at Petco Park. Then the Padres bullpen had a meltdown. Count this one as a lucky win.

April 16: The Rockies overcame a six-run deficit to the Mets in brutally cold conditions at Coors Field.

April 24: Craig Kimbrel came on to protect a two-run, ninth-inning lead. He failed. This was probably the most improbable victory of the year.

And that's it. By my extensive calculations, the Rockies didn't have a "should've" win in May. For all you kids keeping score at home, that's nine "should've won's" and three "should've lost's." I'm not even counting last night's debacle against the Astros. If it feels like the Rockies have given away more games than they've stolen, well, you're probably right.

Link Your Way to Six Pack Abs With This One Weird Trick

Dante Bichette continues to preach patience with the Rockies' hitters, saying they're going to come around. Any time now ... any time.

The Denver Post profiles Marco Gonzales, a lefthanded pitcher out of Fort Collins who is likely to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round of the amateur draft in a few days. Keep reading Purple Row for all your draft day news and information.

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp is headed to the disabled list with an injured hamstring, just in time for the Doyers' trip to Colorado. You never want to see a good player go down, but he was pretty clearly dealing with something this year, as his numbers have been far below what we are accustomed to. Still, I don't mind facing Skip Schumaker in center rather than Matt Kemp.

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