The Colorado Rockies failed to capitalize on a strong opportunity for a rare series victory at Chavez Ravine, falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers by a run in the series finale Sunday.
Neither offense was able to muster together much of anything in the afternoon tilt, but as was the case for most of the series, Dodgers pitchers reigned supreme while Rockies hurlers simply minimized damage. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how a pitcher or team goes about business as long as the result is positive. In the case of the Rockies, splitting a series against one of baseball's most powerful teams on the heels of an 11-game winning streak is definitely positive.
As such, Kyle Kendrick should be commended for getting through seven innings despite struggling to throw strikes. Kendrick walked five batters, the eighth time a Rockies starter has done so this season. That, far and away, is the most in baseball. The veteran right-hander allowed only three hits, though, and induced nine ground-ball outs in front of a solid defense.
Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger was much more dominant in the traditional sense, allowing only three hits himself while striking out six batters and walking only two. The pitching matchup on Sunday represented an opportunity for the Rockies to steal a series in L.A. by name only; Bolsinger now has a 1.04 ERA in three starts since replacing Brandon McCarthy in the Dodgers' rotation.
The Rockies struck out five more times against Dodgers relievers, running their total to 11 in the game. Colorado hitters have racked up 10 or more strikeouts in each of the team's last five games, setting a club record for consecutive contests with double-digit whiffs.
Strikeouts are an issue for Rockies pitchers, as well. The staff struck out just two Dodgers hitters on Sunday, raising their season total to 227, which is by far the fewest in the NL. The team's trouble with putting hitters away is only compounded by the absurd number of walks they issue; Rockies starters still have the unfortunate distinction of walking the most batters (93) in the fewest innings (173) of any NL rotation.
And, while we're at it, let's include the hitters! The Rockies drew just two walks on Sunday and 11 in the four-game series. That includes four on both Thursday on Friday, and that came on the heels of a stretch in which Colorado's offense didn't walk for almost two full games.
Enough of the bad. Let's talk about the good!
Kendrick's quality start marked the Rockies' second in a row, the first time they've accomplished that since the first two days of the 2015 season. Kendrick himself now has three of Colorado's eight quality starts. The Rockies are still last in the NL in that category, but at least they now have half as many quality starts as the next-worst team (Brewers; 16)!
Oh yeah, we're supposed to be discussing good things. OK ...
The pitching staff as a whole was much better on this road trip than they have been in quite some time. The Rockies' ERA in their six-game road swing was a highly respectable 3.06, making a 2-4 swing kind of hard to swallow but perhaps instilling some hope that, in particular, guys like Kendrick and Jorge De La Rosa are going to be better going forward.
Carlos Gonzalez went 0-for-4 on Sunday but hit a couple of home runs and looked pretty good otherwise at the plate in the series against the Dodgers. He's still hitting just .197 with similarly poor on-base and slugging percentages. Returning to Coors Field to face a poor Philadelphia Phillies staff that has been beaten up by left-handers (.766 OPS, 110 sOPS+) should help CarGo further get back on track.
And, who knew Daniel Descalso just needed some regular plate appearances to show some signs of life on offense? Since taking over for Troy Tulowitzki on Friday, Descalso is 6-for-10 with a homer and five RBI. Nobody's asking the veteran infielder to hit like that forever, but it would be nice if he could approach league average going forward so that his presence on the roster is justified.
It can be hard to remember that the Rockies have faced a pretty tough schedule to this point in the season. They've played series against only two teams -- the Milwaukee Brewers (three games) and Arizona Diamondbacks (five games) -- who entered Sunday with a losing record. Getting seven games against the Phillies sandwiched between series against the San Francisco Giants, whom the Rockies have beaten in four out of five tries this season, and the 18-20 Cincinnati Reds could make this horrid May much more tolerable by the time it's over.