When Steven Tyler wrote "Walk This Way," he may have had the Colorado Rockies pitching staff in mind.
The same old story was told for the seemingly countless time on Wednesday night at Coors Field. It was the same story that was told on Tuesday night and the same story that was told last Friday and Saturday nights. The reality is, it is simply terrible baseball.
Despite a good outing from club ace Jorge De La Rosa, the Rockies saw their bullpen give up any chance the team had at going home with a win. While De La Rosa didn't give up a run in six innings, he drove his pitch count up by walking six batters over those six frames. With the Rockies strict pitch counts, the 6th inning was the end of the line for De La Rosa. The Rockies ace left the game with the Rockies up 1-0.
What that meant is that the bullpen would have to go three full innings without giving up a run. With the Rockies facing Stephen Strasburg there was very little chance that there would be too much run support. Winning the game was in the hands of the bullpen. That usually means one thing. The Rockies would go home losers.
On Wednesday it was Gonzalez Germen's turn to start the run carousel. He gave up one run in the 7th, which came on a bases loaded wild pitch that ironically also ended the inning. With Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, Germen uncorked a ball that caught catcher Nick Hundley in-between. It wasn't far enough in front of the plate to go into a blocking position, but wasn't good enough to be caught in the air. That resulted in the ball skipping away and allowing Bryce Harper to score from third base. Hundley tried to get Harper, however, and his overthrow went to DJ LeMahieu, backing up on the play, who flipped to third base to get Yunel Escobar out, who had wandered too far off of the bag on the overthrow. The inning could have been much worse, but ultimately only one run scored.
The 8th inning saw Rafael Betancourt take the mound. Make no mistake, Betancourt has etched his name into the history books of the Rockies. His performance down the stretch in 2009 helped the Rockies secure a spot in the playoffs. Rockies fans will remember him for those performances. Unfortunately, Tommy John surgery and turning 40 years old hasn't been good for the crafty veteran. He continued his nightmare season, giving up two runs in his inning and increasing his ERA to a lofty 6.27. In the 9th inning, John Axford did his part, giving up another run and giving the Nationals a three run lead.
The argument could certainly be made that the Rockies offense never gave the team a chance to win. There is no debating the truth to that point. However, when the bullpen is as bad as it has been, there is little hope for an offense that is facing one of the games best pitchers. With a small lead and three innings remaining to be pitched, the hope for the victory was slim.
The Rockies bullpen may be a creation of their early season short starts. However, the fault may also lie with the franchise itself for their self-imposed pitch count rules. The Rockies have insisted for years that pitchers who throw more than 100 pitches end up injured. The problem is, if a starter can only get through five or six innings every night, the bullpen arms, which get less rest than the starters, are forced to pitch even more often. The starting pitchers might not be very good for the Rockies, but the rules for the starters has also contributed to the failures of the bullpen.
The Rockies look to finish out the final six weeks of the season with some sort of momentum. The problem is, there are very few places where they could begin that momentum. The sad truth is that the team is not very good. Wins are few and far between and it is going to take quite a bit of time for that to be resolved.