Rox go from Gee! rated to PG-13 in first challenge
This is the sound of a baseball team in a free-fall. At 9:22 p.m. on the Fourth of July, so soon after a discouraging 8-1 loss to Cincinnati that the pain was raw, the only noise in the Rockies’ clubhouse was the sound of water in the showers hitting the tile.
No conversation. No music. No smiles.
Lose 11 of 13 games and a baseball team can lose its mojo in a hurry. The confident team the Rockies were in April, May and the first half June? The team that took the National League by storm? That team is nowhere to be found right now.
“We know we can play better than we are,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said Wednesday in a clubhouse as quiet as a ghost town. “We understand it’s a long season. It’s not always going to be roses. We believe in ourselves.”
Baseball is a wicked game. Swagger can get flushed fast. Here’s a peak at the unlucky 13 that has wrecked the
Rockies. It’s rated PG-13. (Parental guidance suggested.)
That starting rotation of rookie wunderkinds is beginning to show the mistakes of youth. In the past 13 games, Colorado starting pitchers have an 8.01 earned run average.
After Kyle Freeland surrendered three consecutive singles during the third inning of the holiday loss to Cincinnati, manager Bud Black walked slowly from the dugout, intent on delivering a message he did not want to leave to pitching coach Steve Foster.
As Black reached the mound, he shooed away the four infielders gathered around Freeland and proceeded to give him a stern lecture in front of 48,338 witnesses, who were there for the fireworks, not sparks between the manager and his young pitcher.
“I’m not going to tell you about our conversation,” Black said.
Although Jon Gray is back from a nagging foot injury and back atop the rotation, the struggles of Colorado starters are why the Rockies are hoping Chad Bettis, who has missed the entire season while recovering from cancer, might actually be ready to pitch again before the end of August.
What’s most disturbing about this midsummer swoon, however, is how the Colorado bats have turned into dead wood. During this 2-11 stretch that has taken any realistic thought of winning the division out of play, the Rockies have scored 3.1 runs per game, with a disheartening batting average of .226.
During the seventh inning, when a Colorado fan desperately tried to get a chant of “We want tacos!” started at the ballpark, it fizzled as badly as an offense that has failed to score seven runs in any of the past 13 games. With runners in scoring position, the Rockies have batted .206 during the slide.
The batting order has grown so dangerously top-heavy that it often teeters and falls, even against Reds starter Homer Bailey, who entered the game with a 27.00 ERA. While Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado earned well-deserved berths to the All-Star Game, Trevor Story is hitting .219 and the slugging percentage of Carlos Gonzalez is an anemic .345.
OK, let’s have a reality check: Colorado’s record is 49-37, and the spunky little team from LoDo knows it remains firmly in control of a wild-card berth. All the Rockies have to do is breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Don’t press.
“When you’re not going good, it’s not easy to do that,” said Story, who struck out twice against the Reds. “We work really hard to get out of it. But I don’t know if press is the right word.”
Here’s the bottom line: In 2017, the Rockies have learned how to win. Now we find out if the Rockies have learned how to deal with losing.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado throws out the Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez over a ducking Adam Duvall during the first inning Tuesday night.