The Colorado Rockies entered Thursday's game continuing the search for a spark on offense. A home date against Sal Romano, which no disrespect to the recently recalled starting pitcher, seemed like exactly what the team needed to score a bunch of runs and get on track. It seemed like it, at least.
Unfortunately that wasn't the case, and even with manager Bud Black shaking up the batting order, the offense went quietly again and the Rockies lost to the Reds by a final score of 6-3.
The shame of it all is that, on this day, home Tyler Chatwood looked at least something like road Tyler Chatwood. Despite battling some of the command troubles that have dogged him all season, Chatwood delivered a solid start for the Rockies. He went six innings, striking out four, walking four, and allowing three runs. A world beater he was not, but it was enough for the Rockies to win (and a quality start, if you’re into that kind of thing).
The Reds chipped away at Chatwood thanks to steady offense, even if they probably think they left some runs out there in their early rallies. Joey Votto drove in the game’s first run, followed in subsequent innings by a Eugenio Suarez RBI and an Adam Duvall double.
Early on it looked like the Rockies’ offense might be in the right mode to string together hits and score some runs to keep up with the Reds. Trevor Story delivered a two-out RBI in the second inning. After the Reds pushed their lead out to a 3-1 margin, Tony Wolters doubled in Story in the 5th inning, keeping things in reach. Unfortunately the offense missed any further opportunities to score when things were in reach, and then the bullpen once again put them further out of reach.
Scott Oberg, the living embodiment of unpredictable relief pitcher, was likely called on in this game because he has been the good one lately. In a moment where there was at least some pressure on him to keep being the good one, he reverted back to being one of the bad ones. His meltdown in the 8th inning came at the hands of the usual suspects in this one: a home run from Duvall, a single from Suarez, and a double from Scott Schebler.
Jordan Lyles also gave up a run. I’m guessing you all don’t need or want further analysis on Lyles at this point, so let’s just agree that we aren’t surprised.
It’s only fair to give Romano his due. Starting on the road at Coors Field, even against the Rockies offense in its current state, is never an ideal situation. The 23-year-old responded with five solid innings, striking out six and issuing just one walk. The Cincy bullpen handled things from there, leaving Colorado with the same frustrated questions on offense.
It’s fair to say the Rockies are dealing with a bit of an identity crisis at this point, and this game summed it all up nicely. Black tried to jolt the offense by moving some guys around, with Raimel Tapia leadoff and Charlie Blackmon batting third (also partially accounted for because Nolan Arenado had the day off). They still went out with a whimper, striking out 11 times in the process. Tasked with keeping it close, the bullpen gave up insurance runs and stopped just short of a worse meltdown than that.
What you have, then, is each key area of the team struggling, with only the occasional success. When one unit does well, they are sabotaged by the shortcomings of a different unit. The starting pitching never gives the offense a chance, or the offense wastes a competitive start, or the bullpen blows the game and/or puts an exclamation mark on the ugliness of the whole thing.
The Rockies are in a bad stretch. They can still be the good team they were until a couple a weeks ago, and all good teams have bad stretches. That said, it seems like you ought to be able to point to the match-ups that the good team should win to break out of the bad stretch. This felt like that kind of game, but the Rockies just still haven’t quite put things back together.
On the bright side, this weekend’s series looks like another chance to get right before the all-star break. The last-place Chicago White Sox come to town, with Derek Holland starting on Friday opposite German Marquez.