It was ugly, as it has been for most of the season so far on defense, but the Rockies beat the hapless Mets 5-4 in 10 innings at Coors Field on Wednesday night.
Chris Iannetta launched a home run deep into the center field bleachers leading off the bottom half of the inning to give the Rockies their first walk off win of the season. The walk-off shot was redeeming for Iannetta, giving the catcher a 3-hit day, and possibly making a stride towards putting his foot down as the guy who should be the everyday catcher.
Ryan Spilborghs, playing for the injured Brad Hawpe and Carlos Gonzalez, took advantage of his playing time, launching a no-doubter 3-run home run well over the center field wall in the third inning after the Rockies had just given up the lead an inning earlier.
Aaron Cook put in a workman-like performance. He went six innings giving up three runs on four hits. He walked four hitters and gave up two home runs, something very rare for the sinkerballer. At the plate Cook notched his first ever two-double night. He was in line for the victory until the bullpen gave up a run in the eighth and a run in the ninth due in large part to poor defense.
Many people complained about the way Clint Hurdle managed a ball club. They complained that he never set roles in the bullpen and that he mixed and matched the lineup too much. All of this may be true, but one thing that Hurdle did very well that most fans were quick to forget about was stressing fundamentals.
Through eight games the Rockies have already stacked up eight errors. That number could easily be nine after the home scorekeeper decided not to give Troy Tulowitzki an error on a play that he has made hundreds of times in the 9th inning to allow the tying run on base.
For whatever reason the Rockies defense has not come together so far in 2010. The score book says eight errors, but there have been plenty of examples of poorly played balls, and near boots that could have cost the team dearly.
On Sunday, in a two run game in the 8th inning, Melvin Mora was at second base and had a hard time picking up a ground ball that nearly resulted in a runner at first base. Luckily for the Rockies he collected the ball and flipped it to Jason Giambi with just enough time to get the out.
On Wednesday Clint Barmes nearly did the same thing. He came up on a ground ball and found himself in an awkward position on the bounce. After the ball skipped off of his chest he chased it down and barely threw out the runner.
On the first play of the night, Todd Helton had a ball bounce off of his glove and into right field for his first error of the season.
When guys like Helton, Tulowitzki and Barmes are having balls bounce off of their gloves, something is wrong. All three of those players are extremely good fielders. It seems like any time a ball even comes close to going their way, they are able to smother it and record an out.
The defense was so bad on Wednesday that every single infielder made at least one bad play. Tulowitzki and Barmes’ misplays did not result in an error being charged, but Ian Stewart made a bad throw to first base that Helton could not dig and later made another throw in the dirt the the surehanded Helton scooped. The game’s hero, Chris Iannetta, shorthopped second base on a steal attempt by Gary Matthews Jr. in the ninth inning, allowing the tying run to move to third base.
Errors happen. They are a part of baseball. The concerning part for the Rockies is that the errors that they are committing do not seem like bad hops or tough bounces, they are errors that are occurring due to sloppy, lazy play. Sloppy baseball is not something that the Rockies have played over the past three seasons.
When teams like the Padres and the Mets are in town it might be easy to get away with those types of mistakes. However, when good teams are in the opposing dugouts, they will take advantage of those errors and make it hurt.
The Rockies go for their first sweep of the season on Thursday. First pitch is at 1:10 with coverage on FSN Rocky Mountain and on 850 KOA on the radio side.
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