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Trouble on the basepaths costs Rockies in San Diego opener

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Can't anybody here play this game?

Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The last time I wrote a recap of a Rockies game in San Diego, they lost by eleven runs. They only lost by two last night, but it was an infinitely more frustrating game, because this time it wasn't so much about the Padres beating the Rockies as the Rockies beating themselves.

The team's baserunning, which has been a weakness for as long as anybody can remember, sank to a new low in the first game back from the All-Star break. The trouble started in the first inning when Carlos Gonzalez, after slamming a one-out double off the wall, decided to try to advance to third on a Troy Tulowitzki grounder to short. Padres shortstop Will Middlebrooks threw quickly to third and CarGo was out easily. His mistake turned out to be a costly one, as he likely would have scored on a two out Nolan Arenado single. Ben Paulsen grounded out to end the inning, stranding Nolan and Tulo (who had reached on the fielder's choice).

Things didn't get any better in the second. With DJ LeMahieu on third and one out, Drew Stubbs walked to put runners on the corners for the pitcher De La Rosa. Jorge was bunting, and the worst possible outcome in all likelihood was a strikeout that would leave two on with two outs for Charlie Blackmon. Stubbs took a big lead at first, and James Shields threw over twice before delivering his first pitch to De La Rosa. After a foul bunt, Shields threw over two more times without getting Stubbs. The fifth time proved to be the charm, however, as Stubbs got himself picked off in a situation where he absolutely had to stay on base.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Got &#39;em! ⚾️ <a href="http://t.co/qOhcQhDGgV">pic.twitter.com/qOhcQhDGgV</a></p>&mdash; San Diego Padres (@Padres) <a href="https://twitter.com/Padres/status/622242065275981824">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The mental lapse by Stubbs is maddening, but the decision by the Rockies coaching staff to allow him to take a lead like that with one out and the pitcher hitting is absolutely inexcusable. The hopes for the inning were dashed right there, and De La Rosa struck out three pitches later. We don't know what Charlie would have done had he gotten the chance to hit, but it's very possible that the Rockies left as many runs on the board in the first two innings as they scored the entire game.

In the top of the fifth, the Rockies again had runners on the corners, this time with two outs. Ben Paulsen was on first, having just hit a single, when he attempted to steal second base. Shields saw him break and picked him off after a brief rundown. The batter at the time was DJ LeMahieu, who was 17 for his last 34 after hitting a double in the second. It doesn't really get more infuriating than that.

All of these baserunning blunders were due to an overdose of aggressiveness, something that has been preached by the Rockies organization for some time now. This philosophy has hurt the team far more than it has helped them. I'm not sure there's a way to accurately quantify how many runs the Rockies have cost themselves on the basepaths over the years, but it's probably enough to amount to several losses per year. If this team wants to be good again, they have to be more fundamentally sound.

Also hurting the cause last night was an abysmal 0-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position, which could have been 0-for-12 if the team hadn't run into so many outs. In four games in San Diego so far this season, the Rockies are 0-for-27 with RISP. That's almost unfathomably bad.

The one Rockie who seems to have thrived at PETCO this season is Charlie Blackmon, who hit his fourth 2015 home run in that park last night, which is one more than he has at Coors Field. It was a leadoff shot to start the fifth and it put the Rockies on the board.

Aggressive baserunning did pay off once for the Rockies, but they can probably thank the Padres more than themselves for that. Tulo was batting and Blackmon and Barnes were on first and third respectively with one out in the top of the seventh and, after almost getting himself picked off, Charlie got a clean jump towards second base, and Padre catcher Derek Norris threw the ball into center field. Barnes scored to to make it 3-2.

Blackmon advanced to third on the throwing error, and Tulowitzki walked to set up first and third again with Nolan Arenado coming to the plate. Despite all their mistakes, the Rockies could have easily tied or taken the lead late in the game with their best player at the plate. Nolan grounded into an inning ending double play, and the Rockies didn't threaten again.

On the other side of the ball, the Padres got three home runs of their own. Two of them came in a three run first inning against Jorge De La Rosa, and the third came in the eighth, as Matt Kemp took Rafael Betancourt deep, giving the Padres an insurance run that closer Craig Kimbrel would not need.

Despite all the misery, there were two bright spots for the Rockies last night. The first came in the form of the mysterious and dangerous Gonzalez German Germen, who pitched two flawless innings of relief one week after his nearly flawless spot start. It might be foolish to get hyped up about guy after five innings of work, but he's looked impressive the entire time he's been in a Rockies uniform. Getting excited about Gonzalez Germen might be the dictionary definition of desperation but hey, it's Rockies pitching. We'll take what we can get.

The night's ultimate highlight came in the form of a classic, yet somehow never-before-seen, Tulo double play, which he turned with fellow All-Star DJ LeMahieu. Gosh it feels good to say that.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Let&#39;s watch it again. And again. On loop... <a href="https://t.co/bpO7FEg4Oq">https://t.co/bpO7FEg4Oq</a></p>&mdash; Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) <a href="https://twitter.com/Rockies/status/622260434918371328">July 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Hey, remember how we started the first half of the season? Remember how the rest of it turned out? Let's hope that the same formula applies here, or else it's gonna be a long summer. Here's a Def Leppard song about running.

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