A good baseball team beat a bad baseball team last night. A good pitcher was dominant, and a train of pitchers who are either struggling or obscure got shelled. There was nothing surprising about the outcome, and there shouldn't have been.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was virtually untouchable in his seven innings of work, surrendering just four hits and one walk while striking out seven. Kyle Kendrick, on the other hand, was definitely touchable. He lived down to expectations by giving up a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first to Matt Carpenter. Looking even more hittable than usual, Kendrick gave up three more hits, all singles, in the inning, and a Jason Heyward sacrifice fly brought in another run.
His velocity was way down, and the explanation turned out to be inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Kendrick would exit the game after throwing just one inning, but he would still be on the hook for the loss as the Rockies offense never came close to equalizing.
At this point, for the second time in three weeks, the game turned into the Laffey/Germen show, as the two mid-season pickups did their best to keep the team close. Laffey succeeded, turning in three innings of scoreless work. Germen got through an inning and two-thirds before allowing a two-out, two run double to Stephen Piscotty in the sixth that chased him from the game.
The man called upon to replace him did no better, as Christian Friedrich gave up a Kolten Wong single that scored Piscotty and then a home run to Jhonny Peralta that made the score 7-0 and effectively ended the game.
The lone pitching bright spot last night for the Rockies was the performance of the embattled John Axford who, freshly removed from his role as closer, pitched a scoreless seventh despite allowing a double and a walk. It's doubtful that any of the other options the team has at closer are better than Axford at his best, and if he can get back to where he was earlier in the season...
I really don't know how to finish that sentence. I would like to say that it would help the team if he can improve, because that would help the team win games, but the reality has finally dawned on me that winning games does not matter for the next two months. Even though the team has been out of it since June, I still held on to things like the performances of DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez as positive signs for the future and kept telling myself that this team could contend someday if all the breaks fell the right way.
Even though the Rockies didn't trade anyone at the deadline, the Tulo move makes it clear as day (unless Jeff Bridich is horribly misguided) that the days are numbered for most, if not all of the veteran players on this team. The truth is that the only way John Axford can help the team by getting better is by increasing his trade value so that they can get some decent prospects for him.
That's an incredibly cynical thing to say, but it is undeniably the truth at this point. There are only a handful of players on the current 25-man roster who will still be on this team the next time it's competitive. Players like LeMahieu, Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa who we have come to love over the years are no longer a part of the franchise's long term plans, and that makes caring about or rooting for this team extremely difficult right now.
There have been some awful games this year that I have not felt like writing about, but I always tried to find a silver lining or something to build on so that I could get through the recap and feel a little better about myself in the process. I don't feel like I can do that anymore this year, at least not until some of our prospects get called up. Every time I find myself marveling at the grace with which CarGo fields a fly ball, I am hit with the realization that he isn't going to be here much longer. This team is going to give us the dictionary definition of "playing out the string" for the rest of the season, and it's not going to be fun.
While the Rockies were getting crushed in St. Louis last night, Troy Tulowitzki was scoring the winning run in the Blue Jays' walk-off victory over the Royals in Toronto. As I watched him beaming in a way we so rarely saw the last few years in Denver while celebrating with his new teammates, it was hard not to feel happy for him. It was also hard not to wish that he was still wearing purple and that it was the Rockies and not the Blue Jays who were playing meaningful baseball and chasing a berth in the playoffs, but that's not reality.
The reality is that the Rockies are currently nowhere. They won't be stuck there forever. I have faith that the deals will come at some point before next spring, and that the team will eventually start over, which is exciting in its own way despite the lack of success on the field.
Right now though, as the calendar turns to August, there's nothing to cheer for. The only words of comfort I can offer are that this is about as bad as it gets. We just lost the team's best player of the last eight years, and the team doesn't yet have a definite plan of action going forward. Even if the Rockies finish 2016 with a worse record than 2015, it won't be as bad as this. If you can make it through these next two months and still remain a fan, you can make it through anything. Hey, we might even finally get to see Jon Gray pitch in the majors.
A man can dream right?