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Royals 7, Rockies 4: The Rockies' bullpen continues to be an abomination

The Rockies made a call to the bullpen with a lead in the seventh inning. You know what happened.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hide the women and children. Nobody is safe when this relief core enters the game. No matter how well a guy has pitched recently, no matter the handedness of the batter, and no matter how large of a lead the Rockies have, there's always a good chance of disaster when the bullpen door for the home team swings open at 20th & Blake.

There was nothing particularly unusual about this implosion, but the pill was a little harder to swallow than most nights because it soured what could have been a very nice evening for Tyler Matzek. For most of this clash, Tyler Matzek out pitched James Shields. No easy task. Or as one former Purple Row writer put it ...

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Matzek stood on the mound with the bases empty holding a 2-1 lead. Josh Willingham pinch hit for James Shields and hit a weak ground ball into center that trickled just past the glove of a diving Josh Rutledge. If Troy Tulowitzki is playing shortstop, it's an out and Matzek's line ends at 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 K's, 2 BB's, and 5 hits on 92 pitches.

Instead, the inning continued with Nori Aoki at the plate. It seemed like a favorable match up left on left, and Matzek immediately got ahead 0-2, but Aoki stubbornly refused to bite on four consecutive and sometimes tempting pitches out of the zone. Following the walk, Matzek was pulled in favor of Adam Ottavino, and as we've become accustomed to seeing seeing when the bullpen enters the game, the flood gates opened. Omar Infante lined a pitched on the outside corner for a double down the line which scored both Willingham and Aoki. Then Salvador Perez followed that up with a double over the head of Drew Stubbs, and just like that, the Rockies were trailing 4-2 with Matzek in line to drop to 2-9 on the year.

The pain would continue in the bottom of the seventh as both Drew Stubbs and Justin Morneau walked to put the tying runs on base for the purple team. But Nolan Arenado, who was on base four times in five plate appearances which included his 13th home run of the year, then made the most costly offensive mistake of the game when he turned a 2-1 pitch into an extremely expensive rally killing double play. Corey Dickerson, who went 0-5 and saw his 12 game hitting streak snapped, grounded out to end the inning.

In the top of the eighth, things got out of control. After retiring the first two batters he faced on just five pitches, Rex Brothers was unable to record the third and final out of the inning despite delivering 19 more offerings. Two singles and two walks later (one with the bases loaded), he was relieved in favor of Nick Masset and his 6.15 ERA. To nobody's surprise, a sharply hit double down the line followed, and what was once a 2-1 Rockies lead now stood as a five run deficit.

The Rockies did make the game a little closer in the ninth when Drew Stubbs launched a two run homer the other way to right for his 13th jack of the year, but unlike Sunday, the gap was just too large to overcome.

An argument could be made for keeping Matzek in the game longer, but he had his chance against Aoki and failed. Adam Ottavino has been the most reliable man in that pen not named LaTroy Hawkins this year, and yet he was still the wrong choice. This is just another classic example of pitchers on this team not executing when they need to. Something tells me that no matter what Walt Weiss does there, this Rockies team finds a way to lose the game anyway.

The Royals on the other hand are red hot. They've now won 17 of their last 20 and 22 of their last 27 games and take another step towards their first postseason birth in 29 years seemingly every day.

Tomorrow they will try to get one step closer to that goal and a division title when Danny Duffy (8-10, 2.60) faces off against Jorge De La Rosa (12-8, 4,32) to complete this brief two game set which will also concludes interleague play for the Rockies this season. It's going to be a tall task for the boys in blue though, because the Rockies are never better than when they have Jorge De La Rosa on the mound at Coors Field. In fact, they are 45-8 in his last 53 starts at home dating back to June of 2009.

Of course, once the bullpen enters the game, all bets are off.

Graph: (See if you can spot the magic moment the bullpen entered the game)


Source: FanGraphs

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