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When Aaron Cook threw 74 pitches

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, June 23, 2021

July 25th, 2007. 28,162 in attendance at Coors Field, Denver (CO).

Padres @ Rockies.

9 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR. 31 batters faced. 74 pitches - 55 strikes.

That’s a pitching line you might not see again for a while folks, and it belongs to the sinkerballer extraordinaire himself, Aaron Cook. Let’s go down memory lane for a bit, shall we? Here are the lineups from that game:

Baseball Reference

There’s some good names there. Holliday went 4-for-4 this game with two doubles, a homer, and a walk for good measure. Helton got on base twice and saw 24 pitches in four PAs, and Aaron Cook himself went 3-for-4 to boost his season slash to .263/.317/.342, phenomenal for a pitcher. But we’re not here to talk about run scoring, because the Rockies did plenty: they scored 10 runs on 14 hits, putting a run on the board in six of the eight innings they batted in, and the game was an easy 10-2 victory. We’re here to talk about the pitching (or lack thereof) of Aaron Cook.

Every Rockies fan will remember Aaron Cook. The righty is the franchise’s all-time leader in games started (206) and innings pitched (1312.1), and ranks second in wins (72) and WAR (19.1). In 2007, Cook was in the middle of a nice run from 2004-09 where he went 57-43 and put up a very good 117 ERA+ across 928.0 IP, and his last start before the game we’re talking about today was a good one: seven shutout innings, a season-high 8 K’s, and a win at Washington. But it would be nothing like his next outing.

Let’s set the scene by reminding ourselves of what modern baseball looks like in 2021. Teams strike out just about 9 times a game on average, and a hitter sees 3.92 pitches per PA. We routinely see starters needing almost 100 pitches to get through five or six innings of work, and home runs and walks are plentiful. So what did Aaron Cook do in this game?

Well, for starters (and relievers, ha ha), he threw 74 total pitches to 31 batters, which comes out to 2.38 pitches per PA. 2.38! 19 of the 31 batters he faced ended the plate appearance in one or two pitches, and he threw 10 pitches or less in seven of the nine innings, which sounds just impossible today with every hitter wanting to wait until they get a pitch they can drive.

You hate the three true outcomes? Cook struck out just two batters, walked none, and not one batted ball left the yard. You hate games taking too long? This game, which featured 12 total runs, took just two hours and 12 minutes to complete. The average 9-inning MLB game is taking 3:08 to complete in 2021, and that 2:12 is the power of few pitching changes and throwing lots of strikes on full display.

This piece doesn’t even have actual purpose. There’s no deep analysis here, there’s no diagnosis. But as I was scrolling through my inner library of Rockies topics, I recalled someone telling me about this game, and I just knew I could probably get you fine people’s memories going.

Do any of you remember this game? Let me know down below!

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Ignore the Germán Márquez trade rumors | Rox Pile

Essentially, the argument comes down to the asking price for Germán being too high for most teams to even consider it, and I can’t disagree. Márquez is a great, young, durable starter with still room to grow, and he has a very team-friendly deal that keeps him under control through 2024. If the Rockies can find the right partner, Germán would bring back a serious haul, way more than anyone else on the team, but finding said party seems difficult.

(As much as it hurts, I’d be in favor of trading him. You could get a real game-changing prospect for Germán Márquez, the kind that makes your farm look way better if some guys in the lower levels perform)

A new week, a new departure as Rockies lose another member of their front office | The Athletic ($)

Boy oh boy. It’s being reported by Nick Groke that Zach Wilson, one of the team’s assistant GM’s, has left the Rockies organization. That makes two major individuals leaving in the past week, as Wilson joins Jon Weil, who was the chief scout and also an assistant of the GM. There are some really scary-sounding quotes in the article about the current state of the front office and in my eyes, the few somewhat respected members of the organization leaving and not being replaced just screams that the power is being concentrated in the hands of one man, and we all know who I’m talking about. We’ll see what happens next, because I don’t think this is the end of the exodus.

On the Farm

All four Rockies affiliates saw the field yesterday:

Almost a miracle comeback, but the ‘Topes couldn’t quite complete it. After falling behind big early with Nº 29 PurP José Mujica getting blasted yet again (5.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R/7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 HR), the Isotopes trailed 7-1 going into the sixth inning. From there on, they’d outscore Reno 7-2 themselves, loading the bases with one out in the ninth and coming a base hit away from tying a game that looked long lost. The offense showed moxie, but the pitching staff getting smacked around one more time remains a concern. The Isotopes are now a lowly 13-29 on the season.

The Yard Goats dropped the series opener against Richmond in a sloppy showing that featured two throwing errors, an 0-for-4 with RISP, and the bats striking out a total of 13 times. Starter David Hill got tagged with three unearned runs and the loss (5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R/2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR), and the only noteworthy performance came from their leadoff man, Nº 19 PurP Jameson Hannah, who had three of the team’s five total hits. Hannah went 3-for-4, added a stolen base, and is currently slashing .323/.362/.400 in Double-A. Hartford, however, drops to 13-30 with the loss.

A solid all-around performance from the Indians, who won their fourth straight game and improved to 20-23 on the back of a very solid start from Nº 27 PurP Mitchell Kilkenny (6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R/2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR), three scoreless innings from the bullpen, and a five-run sixth inning that saw nine Spokane hitters come to the plate, with the first seven all reaching base. Kilkenny has now allowed just two earned runs, walked none and struck out 18 across his first 12.0 innings at High-A. He has a combined season ERA of 1.47 over 43.0 innings of work in total this season.

A slugfest of an affair that saw a run being scored in every single inning, three lead changes, and a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth for Visalia after scoring four runs in the frame via nothing but walks, singles, and groundouts. As you might expect, there aren’t many shiny performances from the pitching staff, as starter Anderson Amarista got hit hard (4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R/4 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 0 HR), and the bullpen coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth inning. The offense did its job and then some, but the pitchers lost them the game. The Grizzlies are now in a bit of a tailspin, having lost four in a row and given up 42 runs in those four outings. Their season record remains strong, however, at 26-17.

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