DENVER — The Colorado Rockies hitters know they’re struggling. If scoring just 17 runs in the first five games of their first homestand of the season didn’t show that, getting shut out by Padres spot starter Zach Lee in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss did.
“We’ve got to get going,” Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. “We’re not scoring runs.”
On the other hand, the Rockies also know that they sit at 6-4 on the young season and that slumps and hot streaks in April tend to be blown out of proportion.
“It’s just magnified the first week or two,” said Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is batting just .171 with a .599 OPS. “I’ve gone through stretches like this before offensively and it’s frustrating, but no one says anything about it in July.”
LeMahieu, Gonzalez and Trevor Story all had an OPS of at least .850 in 2016, but all are under .610 in the early stages of 2017, which is the source of much of the team’s offensive woes.
For his part, Rockies manager Bud Black said he was confident that the offense will pick things up and his stars will regress closer to their numbers from last season as this season goes on.
“These guys are confident players,” Black said. “They believe in themselves, they believe in each other, they believe in this team. This is a long haul, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”
The offense reached a nadir on Wednesday against Lee, who was making just his second big league start and allowed seven runs in 42⁄3 innings to the Mets in his only other appearance in the majors in 2015. The Rockies managed just two hits against Lee, both from Charlie Blackmon, and despite walking four times in 51⁄3 innings never really mounted a threat against the San Diego right-hander.
“Some balls that we got good swings on we just couldn’t square it up,” Black said. “We just didn’t square many balls up actually in the entire series, except for the three homers yesterday.”
Wednesday’s game got off to an inauspicious start, as Rockies starter Kyle Freeland allowed back-to-back doubles followed by a single to start the game, giving the Padres a 2-0 lead. He also gave up a two-run home run to Ryan Schimpf in the first, putting the Rockies in a 4-0 hole before they had a chance to bat.
“Setting the tone is very big in this game, I didn’t set the tone very well in the first inning and I think that kind of quieted our bats as well,” Freeland said.
Freeland finished his day allowing six runs on eight hits in 42⁄3 innings, walking three, one intentionally, and striking out two. It was the worst start of the season for a Rockies pitching staff that has posted a 4.25 ERA in the first 10 games, a mark that would be third-best in franchise history for a full season.
“I think the pitchers are doing a tremendous job,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got to step up and score some runs and make the job a little easier.”
The Rockies will now take their struggling offense to San Francisco to face Giants ace Madison Bumgarner at AT&T Park on Thursday. However, the Rockies will be sending their own ace to the mound in Jon Gray, who said he is ready to take on Bumgarner and play the role of stopper for a team that has lost three of four.
“Tomorrow I’m going to go out there and give everything I’ve got,” Gray said. “Hopefully take it into the seventh, eighth inning, or the ninth would be great but it’s all about the grind and it’s going to be fun.”