"Deserve's got nothing to do with it" a philosopher once said, but William Munny must never have been a baseball fan. The Rockies deserve every ounce of pain they received in their 6-3 loss to the Phillies tonight after having violated every golden rule laid down by the baseball Gods. In their infinite wisdom, those deities repaid the club in full with their bitter retribution. Ryan Howard is not a man; he is the agent of a cruel but just universe.
Baseball Axiom Number 1: those who walk to first base end up running home.
The Rockies received NINE free passes tonight as Phillies pitchers couldn't throw strikes to save their lives. A grand total of ONE* of those free base runners scored. The Rockies put EIGHTEEN men on base, yet two of their three runs were scored via solo home run. What in the hell is that?
*This game wrap is going to feature multiple instances of ALL CAPS. I feel like there's no way to discuss it without adopting the volume and cadence of Al Pacino from Devil's Advocate
Baseball Axiom Number 2: get hits with runners in scoring position
Numerous studies have been done on the phenomenon of hitting with runners in scoring position. Is it a repeatable skill? Are there certain players with that je ne sais quoi that just know how to get a key base hit? The Cardinals had that mojo last year, hitting .330, setting a Major League record. This year? They are hitting .239. Seems utterly random.
Whatever. The Rockies were 0 for 13 with RISP. They left 15 men on. THEY ARE 4 FOR FREAKING 48 with RISP on this road trip. What kind of anti-clutch crap is that?
The top of the seventh was pure artistry in the act of screwing up. Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies walked the bases loaded with nobody out, causing the phans in attendance to shower boos upon him as Ryne Sandberg sent him to the showers. It was a 2-2 game at the time. The fans shouldn't have worried. Those Rockies are poets in the art of choking, and they were about to write their magnum opus.
Righty Matt Adams came in for Bastardo. Walt Weiss immediately recalled Charlie Culberson and pinch hit Carlos Gonzalez.
What the hell is wrong with Carlos Gonzalez?
That's a question that requires more time and space than we have here. I know he's hurt (though apparently not enough to hit the DL). But every single at bat feels like a foregone conclusion before he even steps in the box. Cargo, a man to whom the Rockies gave a 7 year contract, has -0.3 fWAR this year. His wRC+ is below 100, even though he had never been below 117 in a full year. Can you remember the last time he even barreled a ball up?
He did the absolute worst thing possible. He shut his eyes, swung wildly, broke his bat on a pitch right down the middle, and grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.
Troy Tulowitzki, pinch hitting as well, struck out swiftly on three straight pitches. The best hitter in the game couldn't even produce a full swing.
Baseball Axiom Number 3: when your light-hitting second baseman who hasn't hit a home run all year hits a TIE BREAKING homer to left off the BEST RELIEVER IN THE BUILDING THROWING 98 MPH BULLETS, you make that home run stand up
DJ LeMahieu. Good guy. Plays a real slick second base. Can't hit a lick.
But wouldn't you know it, he took this struggling team upon his back, dug a 90 mph slider out of the dirt, and deposited it over the left field fence. It was, quite literally, the least likely event that could possibly happen to break the tie in this agonizing game. When such a bolt from the blue occurs you make that run stand up. Relievers have to be sharp and the rest of the team has to be sharp. Which leads us to...
Baseball Axiom Number 4: play flawless defense late in games
Two errors in the 9th. Why? Josh Rutledge tossed a 20 foot throw over Justin Morneau's head. He had plenty of time. He just short-armed the dang thing.
It was at that point that we all knew were this was going.
I think most people liked the LaTroy Hawkins signing in the off season. He was cheap, he was good last year, and he ought to be an asset in the bullpen. He's no Craig Kimbrel, and he's going to allow contact, but if you play good D behind him he should be perfectly adequate at closing games.
But if you give the opposing team five outs they WILL light him up. That's just how it goes. Tulo dropped Rollins' fly ball for a second error. That one actually didn't matter, as Rollins would later fly out, leaving the runners were they started. But that was out number two. It should have been out number three. Rutledge's error gave Chase Utley an at bat. You do not give Chase Utley free at bats.
Baseball Axiom Number 5: make sure your LOOGY in the bullpen can ACTUALLY GET LEFTIES OUT
Boone Logan has excellent numbers against lefties in his career. However, inexplicably, infuriatingly, he has allowed a .955 OPS against them coming into this game. That number will rise.
For all the Rockies' sins this game, it all came down to Boone Logan, lefty specialist, getting one lefty out. We had it. We could have won this game, and it would have been relegated to the trash heap of history, a contest where we could look back and say, sheepishly, boy we really got away with one didn't we?
But we didn't deserve that. The artist cannot abandon his masterpiece when in the finality of its creation. The tapestry had to be completed.
Logan ran the count to 3-1. Utley singled the tying run home. Ryan Howard, who sucks against everyone but the Rockies, hit a towering shot to center field. The Rockies lose. The Rockies lose. Theeeeeeee Rockies lose.