The scorching Atlanta Braves hung 11 runs on the Rockies tonight at Turner Field. Colorado scored nine fewer runs, and right now the Rockies are like Wile E. Coyote suspended in the air above a canyon, looking sheepish and holding up a plywood sign that says "EEP".
Chad Bettis's debut was inauspicious, as he allowed five runs in his five innings of work. He gave up six hits and five walks while striking out only a single batter. It's hard to tell if this was just plain old poor pitching or if the Braves were absolutely locked in as they have been for this entire home stand. The walks were concerning however as they're something Bettis rarely fell victim to in the minors. Still, the pure stuff looked impressive; he showed a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and a hard slider and curve ball. Bettis will likely get more starts while Roy Oswalt is out, and it will be interesting to see if he rises to the challenge.
A couple of two-run home runs victimized Bettis. The first came off the bat of Justin Upton in the first, following a Jason Heyward walk. In the fourth, Heyward knocked his own bomb out of the park immediately after a Julio Teheran infield single.
The Rockies had a couple bases loaded, one out situations in the first and second innings. Braves starter Julio Teheran struck out Todd Helton and Nolan Arenado in the first to end that threat. In the second, Corey Dickerson had a lengthy 11 pitch battle that culminated in a sacrifice fly to the wall. If the ball had flown five more feet, it would have left the yard for a grand slam and changed the complexion of the game. Alas, baseball is not one of the games where "almost" counts.
Troy Tulowitzki got tossed immediately after that sacrifice fly for arguing with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. The pitch he was called out on was certainly low; still, Tulowitzki simply can't let emotion overcome him like that. With both Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer unavailable, Tulo was the only big bat left in the lineup.
The relief work was shoddy once again, mostly due to Edgmer Escalona's five run implosion. Escalona also took a line drive off the leg that had him limping badly; a DL stint could be in the offing. The bullpen has become an area of weakness that the team really needs to figure out, both for the rest of this year and for next.
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The Rockies head to Pittsburgh tonight, and hopefully they get their heads on straight.