It's a funny game, this baseball. Last week, you're feeling on top of the world, everything is going awfully well, and birds sing sweet sonatas from treetops and what have you. This week, you feel distinctly annoyed after the Rockies dropped their second straight series, nearly got no-hit twice in the course of it, then had the normally stellar bullpen give up a game-deciding homer immediately after the guys scratched and clawed back to tie it in the eighth. This in itself being an accomplishment, as Josh "The Beast" Johnson and our own Ubaldo had dueling no-hitters going through the first half of the game, but Ubaldo then decided to walk the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, come within a rabbit's whisker of getting out of it, then give up a two-out, three-run triple to Omar "All Star" Infante.
Nonetheless, despite a 2-4 week, there are indications that the sunshine, jelly beans, and Reese's chocolate eggs may not have run out entirely. Grab a fistful of Marshmallow Peeps and join me after the jump.
If there's anything we have discovered from this week, it's that Dexter Fowler has a new line to put on his business card: "Official No-Hitter Buster." He broke up Anibal Sanchez's bid for a second no-no in the top of the ninth of Game 2, then did away with Josh Johnson's similar pretensions in the sixth today. It's somewhat sad that he was obliged to do this, but the Rockies that rolled into Citi Field and did all sorts of pornographic things to the Mets apparently got confused as to where
Also, in case you were not aware, Charlie Sheen was at the game today. So I am confused as to why WINNING did not occur.
Truth is, however, I'm much more peeved about losing the first series with the Giants, and in uniquely embarrassing fashion. At least we took it to them in the final game, but if we could have skipped the first inning in both of the previous two, we would have been in much better shape. We veered dismayingly close to being no-hit in Game 1 of that series as well, but hey, this is the 2011 Rockies. We don't get nearly no-hit by scrubs; we get nearly no-hit by the likes of Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson. No shame in either, really, but let's make sure it doesn't happen again for a while. And also, I hope that the Rockies team that showed up for the first two games of the Giants series does not reappear ever again. Way to kill the excitement, bozos.
Undoubtedly the biggest concern at the end of this week is when Ubaldo and CarGo are going to fully get back to form. Uball looked great for four innings today while he and JJ were slinging zeroes at each other, but he seemed to unravel in the fifth, and pretty much dug his own grave with all those walks. The plate ump had a tight zone (and in all of the games, really) but that was legit failure on Jimenez's part. Early on, he had velocity and movement (we saw a few 97-mph nasty heaters today) and there were certainly flashes of his usual self, but after his rough start against the Giants (4 runs in the first inning) and now this, we're still waiting for 2010 Uball to consistently report to the building. 2010 CarGo as well, for that matter. I know he's been battling the flu and trying to get straight, but he's been generally a non-entity thus far. CarGo is supremely confident, so I doubt the pressure of the new contract is getting to him, but whatever the case may be, we'll all be a lot happier when he starts earning it. He's too talented to stay in this funk for long, but hey, for better or worse, when you pay a guy $80 million after one breakout season, you expect timely dividends. If 2010 CarGo decides to show up at Wrigley Field, for example, and kick Cubbie posterior black and blue, we would all interpret this as an acceptable outcome. Got that, Carlos?
The other storyline of note: Apart from Matt Belisle's unfortunate hiccup today, the bullpen has been good. Really good. Really, really good. As in, a level of good we as Rockies fans just aren't conditioned to having (y helo thar, Jose Mesa and Elmer Dessens). And is anyone else impressed with Clayton Mortensen as I am? Small sample size yadda yadda yadda, but he came in after Esmil Rogers' turd and laid six shutout innings on the Gigantes, then did likewise against the Fish today for two. If he's our long guy, we could do a lot worse. Rafael Betancourt is also rounding into form, and Huston seems to be slowly acquiring trustworthiness again. In fact, with the exception of Felipe Paulino's implosion and the Mike Stanton bomb today off Belisle's fat hanging slider, everyone has kept the ulcer-producing moments to a remarkable minimum. This is something that will be crucial to keep up going forward.
I was also going to carp on how our rotating third base brigade is still distinctly underwhelming, but Ty Wigginton probably kept us from getting swept by the Giants, so I won't -- too much. But may I say that the ninth inning today was pretty sad. We'd just given up the Stanton homer, and who did we have trotting up there against Leo Nunez? Jose Lopez, Jose Morales, and the aforesaid Ty Wigginton. Starting a rally would pretty much have required divine intervention (hey, it is Easter after all...) Lopez is hitting .161, Morales .227, and Wigginton .204. Considering that Morales is just the backup catcher and will be gone again once CDI returns to the lineup, that is less of a problem. (Then again, Iannetta is hitting .186, but at least his game-calling skills have drastically improved.) But with Ian Stewart demoted to AAA in attempts to resuscitate his terminally ill swing, Lopez and Wigginton are going to be getting the playing time at the hot corner. It would be nice if one of them would step up. Of the two, I'd take Wigginton, at least because he's produced positive contributions in a few different games; Lopez not so much. But that is of course a fluid situation.
All in all, there's both good and bad to be taken from this week. The Rockies' road record of 8-2 is still the best in baseball, their average of 5.15 runs a game is third best in the NL, and Troy Tulowitzki is really going to have a special season if he keeps this up. As I noted in my column last week, he's a monster. He didn't go on a home run parade again, but he was steadily contributing base hits and RBI, playing his usual excellent D, and just being Tulo. We are very lucky to have him, and I'm sure we all know that.
This upcoming Cubs series is very important. First, we get to see how we rematch against a team that we took 2 of 3 from at Coors, see if we can maintain the killer instinct and recover from a subpar stretch of play. Esmil Rogers gets a chance to redeem himself tomorrow, so it will be illustrative as to whether or not he becomes a liability while we're waiting for Cook to return, and how he as a young pitcher recovers from a terrible outing. Which, of course, happens in the course of a 162-game season, but the wannabes are filtered from the winners by how well they pick themselves up after getting knocked down.
I'd say we're still a few weeks away from being able to assess the state of the Rockies without early-season caveats, but I am encouraged by what I see. That is why I have faith that the appearance of the April!Rockies this week was more exception than rule, and the guys will be able to get it back on track. And hey, we're still in first place. It would be nice to finish the
month season there.
Also, I think 17-7 looks very pretty. That is what our record would be if we sweep the Cubs. I am completely for this.