After months of waiting for a fresh start, Colorado fans get another punch in the gut on Opening Day as the Rockies fall to the Brewers 5 to 4 in ten innings. This game featured several twists and turns and many things can be taken away from it. Let's delve into how a few different groups are feeling right now.
The Optimistic Approach: For much of this game, it looked like the Rockies were going to get everything they wanted. Jhoulys Chacin got better as the game went on and worked 6.2 innings with 6 K's and 3 BB's while only allowing one run.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a booming two run home run to the opposite field in the third inning to give the Rockies a a 2-0 lead, and Carlos Gonzalez added another run with a solo shot in the 5th adding evidence to the theory that they are better when together in the lineup. The Rockies even got a solo home run in the top of the 9th from Dexter Fowler when they were down to their final out. Unfortunately, all of this good news was not enough to fuel a victory - But hey, the last two times the Rockies made the playoffs they lost on Opening Day.
The "Rockies Should have Buried Them Early" Approach: Despite the home runs, the Rockies left some serious potential on the table this afternoon. At one point in this game, the Rockies were out hitting the Brewers 11-2, but they held just a 3-1 lead. Colorado failed to score in each of the first two innings despite collecting a pair of hits in both frames; they would repeat the sin in the 4th, see Carlos Gonzalez immediately ground into a double play in the 7th following a lead off single from Josh Rutledge, and went just 1-5 with runners in scoring position all game. Oh, and that one hit resulted in an unfortunate moment where Stu Cole put the brakes on Wilin Rosario way too late and Chris Nelson failed to realize it until it was inevitable that both runners were going to end up standing on third and gift Milwaukee an out.
When you have as much control of a game as the Rockies did for the first six and a half innings of this one and can't put the opponent away, the baseball gods have a tendency to make you sorry.
The "Walt Weiss Mismanaged his Bullpen" Approach: I generally don't like to put losses at the feet of the manager unless they make a truly awful decision, but I'm sure there are many fans out there upset with two aspects of the bullpen usage today. One, the generally effective Matt Belisle came into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning to relieve Jhoulys Chacin and disposed Carlos Gomez on one pitch. The pitcher's spot did not come up in the top of the 8th, but Weiss chose to bring in Lopez who surrendered three runs in thee bottom half of that inning.
Then when the game went to extra innings, Weiss brought in Adam Ottavino instead of his strongest option in the pen in Rafael Betancourt. I understand this line of thinking; Weiss was hoping to save Betancourt for a save opportunity in case the Rockies regained the lead later in the game. Unfortunately if you don't get later in the game, this strategy looks horrendous
Here's the bottom line, with six outs needed to secure a victory, the Rockies had a two run lead and their three best bullpen arms all gassed up - Belisle, Lopez, and Betancourt. (I include Belisle in this group because he only threw one pitch in the 7th) However, two of those three arms never threw a pitch in the 8th, 9th, or 10th.
The "Wilton Lopez Just Blew It" Approach: If you're looking for one player to be the scapegoat, then your man is Wilton Lopez. Lopez's job is to come into the game in the 8th inning and hold whatever lead the Rockies hand to him. Today Lopez came into the game and turned a two run lead into a one run deficit. I'm not a huge fan of this line of thinking though because two of the hits he gave up today were on ground balls that didn't leave the infield. There was also a potential double play induced to Norichika Aoki that would have ended the inning, but it was hit too softly. Lopez did not pitch well today, but it's probably unfair to pin the loss entirely on him as he's supposed to be a ground ball pitcher. He did get some ground balls, he just didn't get the outs.
The "I Know the 2013 Rockies Will be Terrible Solely Based on This Game" Approach: This group of people will take the result, and only the result of this one game and use it to determine how the Rockies will play over the course of the entire 162 game season. They might add some fact about how the Brewers scored the winning run without a hit in the 10th inning, but that's about it. The Rockies may be bad again in 2013, but it probably won't be because of the way they played today.
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Games Behind: 1
Games Left: 161
Record needed to beat Keith Law's prediction: 54-107
Record needed to beat 2012: 65-96
Record needed to beat the Vegas Over / Under Number: 72-89
Record needed to finish above 500: 82-79
Number of Home Runs needed for Cargo, Tulo, and Rosario to combine for 100: 98
Tune in tomorrow for episode #2 of "Rockies 2013" at 6:10 pm MT as the Rockies send lefty Jorge De La Rosa to the hill against Marco Estrada to hopefully pick up their first win of the season.