Colorado's 4-2 loss to the Dodgers was not your typical low scoring, listless, road Rockies affair.
Instead of making every Dodger arm look like Sandy Koufax, like we often see in this venue, the offense opted for a much more creative way to frustrate fans. By my count, the Rockies had six reasonable opportunities to score multiple runs in an inning in this game. In four of those opportunities, they scored no runs, and in the other two they came away with an only somewhat satisfying one.
First inning: Corey Dickerson and Troy Tulowitzki each picked up their first of three hits on the night, but both were stranded when Justin Morneau lined out of right and Drew Stubbs struck out looking.
Fifth inning: After settling down and retiring 13 of 14 batters, Greinke began to come unglued a bit in the fifth. With two outs, Jhoulys Chacin kept the inning alive with a base hit up the middle and Charlie Blackmon followed with a base hit of his own to the opposite field to set the table for the hottest part of the lineup. Unfortunately, Corey Dickson had what might be his worst at bat of the season, as he did Greinke a major favor by chasing two pitches well out of the zone for an inning ending strike out with Troy Tulowitzki on deck.
Sixth inning: This may have been the best chance of the night to do major damage. Tulo led off with a single, Morneau followed with a walk, and Drew Stubbs loaded the bags with a blooper to left. Greinke found himself laboring 100 pitches into his outing, and was one bad pitch away from hitting the showers in disappointing fashion.
Wilin Rosario did get one run home with a sac fly to right which put the Rockies on the board and also moved Morneau and Stubbs into scoring position, but Ryan Wheeler struck out swinging for the second out when a ball needed to be put in play and DJ LeMahieu ended a long at bat with a grounder back to the mound. (LeMahieu came very close to delivering a knock out blow to Greinke with a line drive down the right field, but it landed just foul.)
Seventh inning: Josh Rutledge led off the frame with a pinch hit double that rolled all the way to the wall in left center field, and after Charlie Blackmon moved him over with a ground out, Corey Dickerson drove him in on a line drive that went off Hanley Ramirez's hand and into shallow center field for an unusual double. (Ramirez had to leave the game with a ring finger injury. X-Rays came back negative and he's listed as day to day.)
After a pitching change, Tulo grounded out to third for the second out. The Dodgers then elected to intentionally walk Justin Morneau and pitch to Drew Stubbs with men on first and second. Stubbs however also reached on a fielding error by Dee Gordon, loading the bases for Wilin Rosario. Sadly for the Rockies, Rosario has just a .189 career average with two out and runners in scoring position, and true to form, Rosario grounded out to end yet another threat.
Eighth inning: The Dodgers brought in Brian Wilson to try and navigate through a crucial frame, which is almost always good news for their opponent these days, but the Rockies couldn't take advantage of his wild offerings. Wilson walked Ryan Wheeler to lead off the inning and then fell behind DJ LeMahieu 3-0. LeMahieu couldn't finish the job however and ended up doing the worst thing possible - Ground into a double play. Brandon Barnes tried to reignite the rally with a two out single, but Charlie Blackmon popped up a hittable pitch and the Rockies once again failed to capitalize.
Ninth inning: The Rockies didn't even go down quietly against Kenley Jansen; Corey Dickerson and Troy Tulowitzki each led off the inning with line drive singles to immediately put the tying runs on base. The theme of the night was already established however, so one more time, the Rockies pissed a magnificent opportunity to score runs out the window.
Justin Morneau started the rally killing with a popup to the left side. Then Kyle Parker pinch hit for only his second career plate appearance and looked completely over matched, swinging and missing late at two pitches before watching strike three roll down Broadway. That must have been a long walk back to the dugout. Technically the Rockies still had one last chance to cash in, but Wilin Rosario was up next with his aforementioned .189 career average with two outs and runners in scoring position, so it was no surprise when he struck out swinging to end the game.
Typically when you have ten more at bats than the opponent with runners in scoring position, your're going to win the game, but a disgusting 2-14 effort in those spots can take away that advantage quick, and boy did the Rockies waste some golden chances tonight.
On the flip side of the coin, Jhoulys Chacin was not as good as his last two outings, but still better than the run of six underwhelming starts he opened the season with after coming off the DL. He allowed seven hits, but three were on well placed ground balls, which is fine. The big blows here came via the long ball as Hanley Ramirez hit a two run shot to right in the third to put the Dodgers on top 2-0, and Matt Kemp (who is showing far too many signs of a renaissance at the plate for my liking lately) blasted a solo shot to left to put the Dodgers ahead by three.
This wasn't a great outing for Chacin, but he managed to work through six innings and give his team a chance to win the game, and if the offense didn't leave 13 men on base and let the Dodgers wiggle off the hook in six separate innings, that probably would have happened.
Oh, and one more thing that was the icing on this cake of frustration. When Hanley Ramirez had to leave the game with that finger injury, he was replaced by Carlos Triunfel. Now Triunfel is only on the Major league roster because both Juan Uribe and Chone Figgins are on the DL, and in 1,265 career plate appearances in the PCL, Triunfel has a slugging percentage of just .369. This is about as light hitting of a guy you can possibly have at the plate that's not a relief pitcher.
So what does Triunfel do? He hits his first career home run over the wall in left. Of course he did.
Even more surprising, it came off of Tommy Kahnle, who mowed down the other six hitters he faced while working both the seventh and eighth. Kahnle struck out four, walked none, and got 20 of his 26 offerings in there for strikes while consistently dialing it up to 95 MPH on the radar gun.
* * * * *
This game was a tough pill to swallow by itself, but it's even tougher within the context of the road trip. After sweeping San Francisco, the only thing the Rockies have to do to ensure a successful California swing is not get swept in LA, and this was the game to grab. They had numerous opportunities to break though and put a crooked number on the board, and they failed every single time. A bad at bat here, a line drive at a Dodger there, the wrong guy up in a big spot, a good pitch to escape a jam - It was always just enough to keep the home team out of trouble.
Now they have to beat Clayton Kershaw tomorrow night if they want to escape with a win, and the odds of winning are never good when he's on the mound. The Rockies do have Jorge De La Rosa going which gives them a fighting chance (assuming his back is 100%), but it's hard not to feel the Rockies are going to find themselves on a plane to Denver late Wednesday night thinking about how they blew a chance at a winning road trip when they left a baker's dozen stranded on the base paths in this one.
Games behind: 9.0
Games left: 91
Total comments: 1266
Total commenters: 34
BubbaFan, CM85, Chrysicat, DomP, ES46NE10, Ender-25, Jbronc, Jordan Freemyer, Lawrence303, Nephelimdream, Nick95, NoDo Joe, Paleface Destro, PurpleToPurple, RMC7511, RhodeIslandRoxfan, RockedUp, RockyMountainWay91, Roxman4ever, SDcat09, Sage Farron, Sjamb, The Ghost of Marv Throneberry, The Lodo Magic Man, WanderingRoxFan, WhiskeyDrinkingMan, Yokel, Zachm219, bearpigman, colorockies, idj2, papality, purplesocks, wolf213