The first game of the baseball season is always an indicator for how things will go through the summer months. That is how we know that Matt Davidson is going to break the single season home run record, Clayton Kershaw is heading for the worst season of his career, and the Miami Marlins are going to be a sideshow.
Okay, sarcasm aside, one of those might actually be true. But when one has been so long without baseball it’s easy to- put a lot into one game, especially when it turns into an ugly 8-2 loss. But, and this is the beauty of baseball, it is just one game and the Rockies and Diamondbacks will play another one tomorrow.
Make no mistake, though: this game was ugly. The Rockies seemed to take all of the fears and criticisms of fans and pundits, from an offense that couldn’t find any consistency to a young starting pitcher and middle relief being exposed. It managed to suck the fun out of what is supposed to be one of the most fun days of the year.
Opening Day started out very fun, as DJ LeMahieu hit the first home run of the Rockies’ season in the top of the first. It stopped being fun almost immediately after that as the rest of the game played out in a manner eerily reminiscent of the last time the Rockies played at Chase Field. Jon Gray, struggling with his command, gave up three runs in the first inning. He managed to settle down and avoid major trouble in the next few innings, but when he walked Paul Goldschmidt to load the bases with no outs in the fifth, Chris Rusin came in and retired the next three batters he faced.
Meanwhile, Patrick Corbin and the bullpen corps outpitched the Rockies most of the rest of the game. Nolan Arenado hit his first home run of the season in the sixth to make it a one-run ballgame. Unfortunately, Rusin got back into trouble and was deemed responsible for the three runs that crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
With the game at 6-2, the Rockies had two on and one out with DJ LeMahieu at the plate who, for the second time in the game, grounded into a rally killing double play. This proved crucial as the Dbacks went double, triple, single to stretch their lead to 8-2, which ended up being the final.
An offense that only managed runners in scoring position twice and one player with a multi-hit game, a second baseman who grounded into two double plays in high leverage situations, a young pitcher who struggled to put away hitters, and your standard bullpen fickleness: these factors sunk the Rockies on Opening Day but all point to problems that many feared would manifest at some point through the season. These could be factors that plague the Rockies 2018 season.
Then again, it is only one game, and even a legitimately excellent team is going to lose games like these throughout the season. The beauty of the baseball season is you get 161 opportunities to give them a second chance.