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Finding hope as Rockies slouch toward 100-loss season

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, August 18, 2023

This is painful.

The Rockies have lost nine of their last 11 games and are currently the third-worst team in baseball.

To be clear, it’s been painful to be a Rockies fan for over four years as the organization has gone from a playoff team to a roster hemorrhaging stars and wins to reduce a winning percentage from .558 in 2018 to .380 through 121 games this year.

I have been to five games at Coors Field this season. After witnessing the worst loss in Rockies history, a 25-1 drumming at the hands of the Angels on June 24, I figured I was done with watching the Rockies in person. It is just brutal to witness.

But, as it usually goes, I ended up back at Coors Field this week. To the boycotters and other various protestors, I know. You are right. I am just feeding money to a rigged game and expecting a win. (At least it was $20 Blake Street Steal tickets with a $15 concessions voucher to sit in the first level, which seemed like at least a fairer price for the product the Rockies are putting on the field.)

On Tuesday, I saw another loss. This time it came in the form of an uncharacteristic blown-save disaster from the arm of Justin Lawrence. After the Rockies rallied back to tie the game in the sixth and actually take the lead in the seventh, it was a heartbreaker.

Even if the Rockies have been playing in closer games, it never feels good to lose. The Rockies culture of winning as a franchise is non-existent as Colorado is well on its way to its 20th losing season in 31 attempts.

Despite all of this, there was something that felt different on Tuesday. Instead of watching another painful loss, I felt like I was watching the growing pains of a young roster trying to figure it out.

Down 3-2 in the seventh inning, the young Rockies breathed life back into the game. Nolan Jones hit a one-out double and Michael Toglia followed with a double of his own to tie the game. Even though Toglia was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Elehruis Montero, Brenton Doyle came up huge with a two-run jack next. The future of the roster put the team back up 5-3.

Even though the Rockies blew the lead and entered the bottom of the ninth down 8-5, Jones and Montero singled, and a pitch-hit single by Jurickson Profar loaded the bases with one out. Charlie Blackmon and Ezequiel Tovar were unable to capitalize, but the Rockies went down fighting with the winning run at the plate.

Jones, Montero, Toglia, and Doyle, a contingent that has an average of 88 games played in the big leagues, scored 80 percent of the Rockies runs and connected for 80 percent of their hits. It was a glimpse of the offensive possibilities to come.

Right now the Rockies rank No. 21 in runs (517), 25th in on-base percentage (.308), 20th in slugging percentage (.401), 18th in batting average (.249), and have the third-most strikeouts in baseball. What if these young players are building a foundation to score runs and bring back rallies to Coors Field?

On an average night, the Rockies have five position player rookies (or other young players with less than 150 games under their MLB belts like Montero and Alan Trejo) in the starting lineup. There are errors and bad at-bats. There are blown games and base running mistakes. But failure is the best way to learn. The loss still hurt, but what if this season is the darkest days before the dawn?

Maybe this outlook is a psychological trick my brain is deploying to fend off depression and to help me cope as Fangraphs has the Rockies slouching toward 101 losses, which would be three more than the previous franchise worst in 2012. But if we don’t focus on the development and shining moments of guys like Jones, Doyle, and Tovar and a better future, how can we deal with the mounting losses this season?

The only other coping mechanisms I have found are watching When Colorado Went Major League and AT&T SportsNet’s Classic Re-Air games.

On Thursday night, I watched the 2007 Rockies — with a lineup of Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, and Ryan Spilborghs in the middle — rally back from an 8-5 deficit to win 9-8 on Helton’s walk-off homer. It was day two and win three of a 14-win stretch in 15 games that helped the Rockies punch their ticket to the playoffs and eventually win the NL Pennant.

That team was an offensive powerhouse. Maybe the Rockies lineup is finally getting back on that track.

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How pitching guru Brent Strom would fix the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field | Call to the Pen

Finding ways to successfully pitch at Coors Field has been a 30-year struggle. The details of why are brilliantly laid out in Purple Row’s Pitching a Altitude Series by Mario DeGenz. Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach Brent Storm shared some pretty brutal comments on how the Rockies have gone about solving the altitude problems in an “a**-backwards” way, as explained by Kevin Henry. Instead of targeting ground balls, Storm believes more fastballs to force more misses and more pop-ups is the answer. This is very interesting to look at and considering the problems the Rockies have had, it might be worth trying a new approach.

Colorado Rockies Veteran Could See Position Change Upon Return From Injured List | Sports Illustrated

Bud Black seems open to putting Kris Bryant at a less-demanding fielding position when he returns from a broken finger. He might still be a month out from a return, but using his versatility could help the Rockies minimize his future injuries and keep playing talented rookies in the outfield. Bryant has played 32 games at first base in his career.

Charlie Blackmon leads by example in his return – ‘He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen’ | DNVR

After missing 53 games with a broken hand, Charlie Blackmon is back in the lineup, but his presence is felt even more in the clubhouse. This feature by Patrick Lyons has good quotes from Bud Black and Nolan Jones, as well as Chuck Nazty himself, on Blackmon’s impact.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 9, El Paso Chihuahuas 5

Hunter Goodman remains on fire. In his eighth game since being called up to Triple-A Albuquerque, he hit his fifth homer and drove in his 18th RBI. This shot came in the form of a two-run shot in the first inning to help the Isotopes record a victory on Thursday night.

Albuquerque scored five more runs in the second to take an 8-1 lead thanks to a homer by Jonathan Morales, a two-run triple by Daniel Montano, an RBI double by Jimmy Herron, and an RBI by Sean Bouchard. Bouchard went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and is now batting .296 in eight games with the Isotopes as he works back from a biceps rupture he suffered in spring training. Coco Montes added a solo homer in the sixth on a night where he went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.

Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 12, Hartford Yard Goats 1

The Fisher Cats jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning and made it 9-1 after two on their way to a lopsided win on Thursday. Yanquiel Fernandez hit his sixth homer of the season in the second to account for all of Hartford’s scoring. Colin Simpson and Drew Romo each got two hits on a night when the Yard Goats only totaled six.

High-A: Tri-City Dust Devils 8, Spokane Indians 5

This game started with two Spokane homers, but ended with a Dust Devil rally for the win. Indians Ryan Ritter and Nic Kent each homered in the first to put Spokane up 3-0. Thanks to Ritter coming into score on a double play and Juan Guerrero scoring on a wild pitch, Spokane increased its lead to 5-1 after three innings, but that was the last of the scoring. Guerrero and Ritter each posted two hits, representing 60% of the team’s hit total. Tri-City took advantage of four walks and two singles for a four-run sixth inning to help lift the Dust Devils to victory.

Low-A: Modesto Nuts 18, Fresno Grizzlies 1

The Nuts put up eight runs in the second inning to take a 9-0 lead and never looked back. Modesto totaled 17 hits, including three homers (one of which was a grand slam). Despite recording nine hits, the Grizzlies didn’t get on the board until the ninth inning when Jean Perez led off with a single, Kyle Karros reached on an error, and Jesus Bugarin singled to drive in Perez.

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