The Rockies lost an uneventful game to the Padres Tuesday night 4-1. By itself, that's not newsworthy, but couple it with the 14 inning victory by the Texas Rangers over the Rays in a game that ended only minutes apart from this southern California snoozer, and now we've got a story.
After an endless parade of embarrassing, uninspiring, injury filled, and all around atrocious play, the Rockies have finally reached the Marianas Tench of the baseball world; standings alone as the team with baseball's worst record at 46-73 with just 43 games left on the schedule.
The club took about as large of a step towards the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft as you can take in one day. Coming into Tuesday, the Rockies, Rangers, Astros, D'Backs, Cubs, and Red Sox had the six worst records in baseball, and the Rockies were the only one of those teams to lose (Arizona was rained out).
While the utterly horrendous baseball didn't first make its appearance following the sweep of the Giants in San Francisco in mid June, it's been especially present since that point. The Rockies have gone an astoundingly awful 12-38 in their 50 games since that glorious series which includes a possibly even more stunning 3-22 mark on the road. At no other point in Rockies history have they ever gone 12-38 in a 50 game stretch. Not in a slice of a single terrible season, not in a cherry picked sample overlapping multiple seasons, not as an expansion franchise, not ever.
The Rockies once went 13-37 during the end of the 2004 / beginning of 2005 seasons, and they also have a few 14-36 stretches including the 2001 mid season collapse, an April thorough August stretch in the dumpster fire that was 2012, and of course their first few months as an expansion franchise in 1993. This however is a new low. It's their worst 50 game stretch in franchise history doubling as a plunge that's landed them at the bottom of the baseball world record wise from what once looked like a promising season. (Their 24-59 mark since their 22-14 start is also the worst 83 game stretch in franchise history).
While there are no more teams the Rockies can fall behind in the MLB standings, they can still tumble even further record wise. They have no Carlos Gonzalez, no Troy Tulowitzki, no Jhoulys Chacin, no Tyler Chatwood, and no Brett Anderson, and there's no time table for ANY of these players to return. They have reached a corner of the baseball universe where tears are the only form of liquid, negativity is the only language spoken, and every step forward is actually a trap door.
In the actual game, because I'm obligated to write about that as well, Yohan Flande had a respectable outing, throwing six frames of two run baseball. Flande can't overpower hitters, but he does do one thing very well, and that's not walk people. Against a lineup like the Padres, that will usually work out pretty well. Still, Flande has not pitched in a Rockies win yet, and with tonight's loss, the team is now 0-8 in games he pitches.
One of the reasons for this is that Flande usually resembles a train derailing after about 75 pitches, so despite only throwing 76 pitches though six innings of work, Walt Weiss elected to pull him in favor of Tommy Kahnle in a 2-0 game. It worked well for the seventh inning, and not so well in the eighth where Kahnle walked two and allowed two runs.
Kahnle's inning also featured one of two rather frustrating fundamental gaffes from the Rockies in the game. With runners on the corners and only one out, Kahnle seemed to completely forget that Tommy Medica was on first base, and he stole it without so much as an acknowledgement. It would prove costly too as Chris Nelson singled home both runners in scoring position with two outs.
The other fundamental breakdown by the Rockies occurred in the fourth. Here, Corey Dickerson came to the plate with Justin Morneau on second and only one out, and despite smacking a single into center field, the play ended poorly for the Rockies. Dickerson ended up trapped between first and second, Morneau then started home, and by the time the mess was over with the Rockies were left with Dickerson on third, and Morneau erased from the base paths. Wilin Rosario came up next and actually hit a line drive the other way with a man in scoring position (he struck out swinging on off speed pitches in his other three at bats), but it was right at second baseman Jedd Gyorko to end the inning.
I guess the baseball gods aren't too forgiving when it comes to clumsy play.
Dickerson did atone for his mistake to some degree in the ninth when he hit his third home run in as many games to prevent the Rockies from getting shutout, but it was only a small consolation prize in yet another evening of disappointment.
Charlie Blackmon, Josh Rutledge, and DJ LeMahieu all went hitless again tonight to continue their three extremely rough recent stretches at the plate.
On the flip side of things, fortunes are looking up in San Diego. With tonight's win, the Padres are now very quietly 22-15 over their last 37 games, and with the Cardinals, Giants, Braves, and Reds all losing, they're suddenly just six games out of the second Wild Card spot. They also start a four game series with St. Louis, who currently holds that spot, on Thursday. If the Padres continue to play well, we could have a developing situation in San Diego as soon as this time next week.
Before any of this can play out however, the Padres have to finish off a sweep of the Rockies Wednesday afternoon at 4:40 p.m. MT. On paper they have the pitching advantage with Ian Kennedy (8-10, 3.51) facing off against Tyler Matzek (2-7, 5.32), but in baseball, you just never know.
Graph: Yes, this game was as depressing as it looks.
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