With their 9-6 win over the Rockies Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field, the Cardinals won a game in which they trailed after six innings for the first time all season.
Yohan Flande made his major league debut for the home team and walked off the mound with a lead despite a predicatively unimpressive performance. Flande wasn't actually wasn't horrible all things considered, he just doesn't have major league stuff. His five innings of four run baseball gave the Rockies a chance to win a game at Coors Field.
During the mid stages of this contest, it looked like that's exactly what was going to happen. After not recording a hit against Marco Gonzales (who was making his major league debut) during the first three innings, the offense adjusted and busted through with a five run fourth. Drew Stubbs hit a home run for the second day in a row, Wilin Rosario and Corey Dickerson each doubled, DJ LeMahieu notched an RBI single, and Yohan Flande even tacked on a run with an RBI ground out.
As the game neared its midpoint, the Rockies had a four run lead at Coors. That's a game this team needs win.
Unfortunately, the lead began to evaporate almost immediately. The Cardinals manufactured a run in the fifth with a Mark Ellis double, a Gonzales ground out which moved Ellis to third, and a Matt Carpenter sac fly. However, what happened next would prove even more costly. Matt Holliday, who was on base eight times in this series, hit a double to the wall in center, and Matt Adams followed with a two run opposite field home run. The Rockies were one out away from handing the game to the bullpen with a three run lead, and instead, the game became white knuckle.
Tommy Kahnle worked a scoreless top of the sixth before the Rockies picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double from Charlie Blackmon that was nearly caught in center field by a diving Peter Bourjos.
Then the bullpen started to leak. Rex Brothers gave up a run in the seventh before Adam Ottavino coughed up the lead for good in the eighth. This outing was emblematic of Ottavino's entire month of June - An exercise in unexplainable frustration.
In 10.1 innings of work this month, Ottavino has struck out 12 and only walked three, but he has a 12.19 ERA and opponents have an OPS over 1.200 against him. One pitch he throws will look unhittable, and the next will result in a base hit.
Today's disaster began with an Allen Craig single on an 0-2 pitch. However, Ottavino retired the next two batters to put the Rockies one out away from handing the game over to LaTroy Hawkins. Instead, Daniel Descalso looped a ball toward left field with a runner in motion. The ball hung in the air for what seemed like forever, but it was hit to the only place in the ballpark where a ball with that much hang time could land for a hit. With the Rockies shaded for Descalso (a lefty) to pull, the ball fell by the chalk in no mans land along the left field line barely in fair territory. A couple feet to the right, and it's the third out of the inning. A couple feet to the left, and it's a foul ball. In between, it's a run for the Cardinals.
The Rockies couldn't get out of the inning with a tie either. After a seven pitch at bat, Matt Carpenter lined a sharp grounder up the middle to plate the go ahead run. Tulo got a bit of leather on it and nearly made a sensational play, but it was just out of his reach.
After Nick Masset surrendered two runs in the top of the ninth despite only allowing one hit, the Rockies put up a fight in the bottom of the inning. Brandon Barnes earned a lead off walk, and Drew Stubbs worked a nine pitch free pass to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. An amazing battle then ensued between two of the game's best in Trevor Rosenthal and Troy Tulowitzki. After falling behind 0-2, Tulo fouled off an 88 MPH change up, an 89 MPH change up, an 85 MPH change up, a 100 MPH fastball, a 97 MPH fastball, a 99 MPH fast ball, and an 82 MPH curve ball - All on pitches in or around the zone. He would finally come up empty on the 11th pitch of the at bat when he swung and missed at a 100 MPH fastball at the top of the zone. Four pitches later, Justin Morneau flew out to center field, and with that Rosenthal had a 41 pitch four out save.
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There's no way to sugar coat it at this point. The Rockies are in enormous trouble. They have lost 19 of their last 26 overall, 13 of their last 17 at Coors Field (which is alarming and probably a death sentence by itself the way Colorado teams usually play on the road), and with today's defeat have now lost eight games (nearly 20 percent of their total losses) where the team put six or more runs on the board.
The Rockies are now 11 games off the division lead, 7.5 games off the second Wild Card spot, and have a brutal seven game road trip coming up where only two games will be started by someone who hasn't made the majority of their starts in Triple-A this year. While several key pieces are getting closer to returning, there's no definite time table yet for any of them, and by the time a team which remotely resembles the one the front office intended to have on the field actually takes the field, they're likely to be at least a dozen games under .500 and about a dozen games out of a playoff spot. Unless this team has a miracle August and September in store, that's going to be too big of a hole to dig out from.
Some will ask for heads to roll in the front office, others will ask to see what the team actually looks like when half the pieces the front office assembled are not on the DL - But neither are likely to get their wish. Cries of frustration from both camps will go unanswered, and a season which had promise as recently as a month ago, will fade aimlessly into the abyss.
Games behind: 11.0
Games left: 84
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