In the fifth inning catcher Michael McKenry got socked in the face by Alex Gordon's bat on an overlong follow through. This entire game felt like a bat to the face.
Let's talk about Jason Vargas for a second. Vargas has a career 5.85 strikeouts per nine innings. League average is 7.85. This is a guy who tops out at 87 MPH and has a career 4.32 ERA in pitcher's parks. This guy struck out eight Rockies in 6.2 innings.
Indeed, it was looking like Vargas was going to take a shutout through seven innings at least until a Nolan Arenado bloop double dropped in between three Royals. That allowed Drew Stubbs one extra at bat against a lefty, which was nice: he bombed a home run to the bullpen in left field. That was also the only nice thing to happen today.
Let's talk about Dan Bellino. You didn't know who Dan Bellino was before today. Now you do. He's the home plate umpire who tossed Troy Tulowitzki out of the baseball game for arguing balls and strikes. Bellino called Tulo out after calling a ball down and in a strike. Earlier in the at bat Bellino called that exact same pitch a ball; actually, it wasn't the same pitch, it was CLOSER to a strike. Sure, they were borderline. But consistency is all anyone asks for, and he was the opposite of that.
Tulo yelled "That's terrible!" from the dugout. Carlos Gonzalez was already digging in. Bellino ripped off his mask, turned to the dugout, and tossed Tulowitzki. There were no "magic words" spoken. It was clearly Tulo's final salvo. But apparently the umpire felt compelled to make his presence known.
Later in the game he called Charlie Culberson out on a pitch way low in the zone. To end the game he called Drew Stubbs out on a pitch that nearly had the catcher's glove scraping the dirt. Here's to you Dan.
So all of a sudden, DJ LeMahieu is the Rockies' number three hitter. Gee, I hope that doesn't come back to haunt us.
Jhoulys Chacin will get a "quality start" in the stat sheet tomorrow, but I found very little of quality to his pitching today. He went six innings, allowed three runs, struck out one and walked two. His velocity was down, he gave up tons of fly balls and line drives, and benefited from a base running mistake that cost the Royals an extra run in their three-run second inning.
In the sixth inning, Charlie Culberson and Brandon Barnes singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Troy Tulowitzki strode to the plate representing the tying...wait, no, it was LeMahieu. Never mind. He struck out. So up walked Carlos Gonzalez, dying to end his slump, ready to park one over the fountains and...wait, no, Culberson got picked off at third. Never mind.
Stubbs's homer was the only extra base hit the Rockies recorded in the series. It brought the club within a run of tying it, but the game never really felt in reach. Too many metaphorical bats to the face. Even with Justin Morneau at the plate, Cargo and Arenado on base in the top of the ninth, it felt lost already. Morneau grounded into a fielder's choice that should have been a double play. Stubbs (who probably should have been pinch hit for with a righty on the mound, but he hit a dinger earlier, so of course Walt would never...) watched strike three bounce by. Game over.
The Rockies dropped three straight, went 2-5 on the road trip, and re-ignited the debate about whether these guys actually can play on the road. The much-vaunted two strike approach was missing. The power was missing. Mental mistakes were not missing. If the Rockies are serious about contending this year they need to figure out how to make sure games like these don't happen again.