It was ugly. It was a reminder of everything that is wrong with the Colorado Rockies. Then suddenly it looked like the Rockies would overcome everything that was so ugly.
Dreams of a sweep ended quickly when the Dodgers put up six runs in the 3rd inning. However, the Rockies mounted an impressive comeback, plating seven runs in the 8th inning only to fall short, losing 10-8 on a hot afternoon at Coors Field.
The early part of the game was exactly what has hurt the Rockies in 2012. Starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz was great in the first two innings, requiring just 24 pitches to get through the first two frames. As good as the first two innings were, the third was equally as bad. Six Dodger runs came across in the inning and the Rockies were dead in the water.
Pomeranz, the crown jewel in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has shown flashes of the ace that is somewhere within him. In between flashes of brilliance, however, the lefty has struggled mightily. His usual struggle comes from a lack of control, walking batters. Wednesday afternoon's struggles came from lack of command, but not from outside the strike zone.
The line for Pomeranz isn't great. Four innings pitched, five earned runs on six hits, four strikeouts, no walks and a home run given up. However, his defense didn't help the situation. The scoring in the 4th inning started when Jordan Pacheco dropped a line drive hit by Mark Ellis. Later, Ramon Hernandez couldn't block a wild pitch, allowing another run to score. Of course, the wild pitch falls on Pomeranz's shoulders, but the veteran catcher could have helped him out. The scoring was capped when Hanley Ramirez took the lefty deep. Pomeranz then went on to retire four of the next five batters.
The Rockies would have had a chance, but after a phenomenal relief performance by Adam Ottavino, rookie Will Harris loaded the bases in the 8th inning, then gave up a grand slam to A.J. Ellis, giving the Dodgers a 10-1 lead.
The June 2012 Rockies would have folded. That team is nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the Rockies fight back. They don't give up, regardless of the opposing pitcher, the score, the field or the situation. These young Rockies, brought up to replaced the injured veteran Rockies, show an incredible amount of heart. Josh Rutledge added two more hits in his storybook rookie season, DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-5 and Chris Nelson went 3-for-5 as both infielders remain too hot to remove from the lineup.
The reality is, the Rockies are a bad team. They will finish the season in dead last in the National League West, and they have to make huge changes in philosophy if they want to be respectable in 2013. However, the base is there. The heart and energy behind this young team is ready to win games. The reality is, the success or failure of this franchise hinges on the success of the pitching staff. The talent is there. Pomeranz, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood and eventually Jorge De La Rosa should be good enough to keep the offense in the game long enough to win on most nights. No one is going to argue that a rotation comprised of five of those young men, but they should be willing to acknowledge that it is good enough to throw strikes and get outs.
The issue will be whether or not the Rockies have the right people in place to develop that talent. If they have the right personnel in the front office to impart confidence into those young pitchers, and the ability to allow the talent to develop and find the patience to believe in their young pitchers and allow them to pitch deep into games.
If the Rockies can find a way to get their starting rotation to pitch up to their potential they could find themselves back in the race in 2013.