PHOENIX – My horse broke his back to get me here, my horse broke his back and left me here.
There were signs over the past few weeks the Colorado Rockies pitching was starting to break down. The bullpen a bit shakier, the young starters the Rockies rode for most of the season were replaced by more experienced pitchers and the team relied on Jon Gray’s mighty right arm in August and September.
On Wednesday, Colorado’s horse was killed on the hill and left the Rockies’ offense to die for good in October.
Ultimately the stage was too bright for the sophomore out of Oklahoma. The prowess Gray displayed to get the Rockies into the dance left him exhausted for the dance itself.
Lasting one and one-third, Colorado’s horse for 2017 could be easily confused for one roaming Arizona 200 years ago. Out of fuel—trying everything—every step Gray took felt like it
could’ve been should’ve been his last.
Until he was done for good, 11 batters after he started, with four runs already on the board.
“I think Jon, from a pitching side, you look at if you look at each pitch, the ball was up,” manager Bud Black said. “He didn’t get any balls at the knees, the breaking balls weren’t down. When you do that, you’re in jeopardy. They took full advantage of that. They did not take pitches, they did not miss them when they swung. They squared up his mistakes.”
Leaving the ball up. The telltale sign of a pitcher with too much adrenaline, a sophomore error.
“I can’t change the way I pitched,” Gray said. “I can’t overthrow like that, I have to stay loose and execute pitches. I got a little outside myself today. It sucks when it happens that fast and there’s nothing I can do about it.”Gray is describing.
Gray is describing over-pitching.
“Typically when you see a lot of damage like that done, they’re just not executing,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “We had a pretty good game plan going into it. They took advantage of mistakes. They over-cooked some pitches and hung it, and that’s going to happen especially with younger pitchers in an environment like this where there is a lot of pressure and noise. They over-cooked it, it’s going to happen.”
But it didn’t just happen to Gray.
“Over-cooking” happened to youngsters Tyler Anderson and Carlos Estevez too, each allowing runs in relief.
Even All-Star veterans Pat Neshek and Greg Holland weren’t immune to the mistakes, both allowing a pair in the eighth and ninth.
“I made one pitch where the ball stays up in the zone and the guy lunges and puts his bat up on it,” Neshek said of the two-run triple to opposing reliever Archie Bradley in the eighth. “You throw a fastball by him and it’s a great night. That’s what baseball comes down to, getting that third out. Pretty much every one that pitched tonight had that issue on both sides.”
“I felt like that’s a game we would’ve won had I kept it at a one-run game,” Holland said about another two-run triple just an inning later in the ninth. “I always blame it on myself but I threw one poorly located pitch and it went for extra-bases for the gap. I really feel responsible.”
There was no stopping it tonight as even Colorado’s best struggled.
“You would like to stop it but sometimes baseball just gets a little bit weird,” Lucroy said.
Gray, Neshek and Holland, Colorado’s three best pitchers all year along with Anderson and Estevez, who had been just as good down the stretch, blew up.
Any game plan could be discarded fast, any hope relied on the offense to put up a football score on the road.
To quote Car Seat Headrest once more, “I have his blood on my hands for no reason, How was I supposed to know?”