Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rock Solid Recrap: Sluggish Rockies give one back to Sox

Ugh. Tonight was exactly like last night in terms of both teams pitching well, but looking terrible at the plate and defensively. It was another game that was there for the taking for Colorado. All it would have taken on a couple different occasions was one big hit or one less mistake on the bases to notch back-to-back wins.

It didn't happen. This time it was the White Sox getting the win, though they didn't really have to take it like Troy Tulowitzki did last night. They just benefitted from one big break.

White Sox 3, Rockies 2 (boxscore)

Of course most of the criticism will center around that break Chicago caught. It came in the 9th inning on a play at the plate. Carlos Quentin tags up and scores the winning run on a shallow flyball to right field. Seth Smith made the catch with his momentum coming towards home, but the throw was off line, handcuffed Chris Iannetta, and Quentin got in.

My take: Yeah, Iannetta probably should have picked that ball and made the tag. But think about it, the catcher had to go 8-10 feet up the line to try and catch a ball on a shorthop. I've pointed out his sloppiness blocking baseballs in the past, though it's different behind the plate. Point is I'm certainly no apologist of his, but this all tells you it's a bad throw. And he also had a runner baring down on him.

It's not an easy play.

If we were to assign blame on the play - which I don't think is necessary, it's just a baseball play that didn't work out in a game filled with a lot of bad baseball - then the first blame goes on the poor throw. The WORST thing a catcher can deal with there is a shorthop. If the throw bounces ten feet out, it's an easy read, catch and tag. On a shorthop, he's thinking about the runner, securing the ball, making the tag, if he has time/room to grab it on the fly.

It's tough. Like I said, I agree Iannetta should have come up it. That had to be his first priority and he didn't do that. But it's far from an easy play, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you Chris Iannetta is the only reason the Rockies lost this game. He's not. There were a lot of contributing factors to that loss. To put in on one player or one play isn't thinking hard enough.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Another pretty solid start. Maybe the only truly hard hit ball he allowed all night was the double by Mark Buerhle. He quickly picked him off. He also walked two and hit one batter. Of course two of those ended up scoring. Which further proves if he can elimiate the free passes, teams will find scoring on him to be a very difficult task.

On the other side, you notice when Mark Buehrle gets behind in a count he comes right in the zone, challenges hitters, and often times gets outs. That's how he's survived so long and is regarded as one of the most consistent pitchers in either league. He's not gifted with overpowering stuff. He's gifted with courage and a confidence that you can't beat him unless he helps you, so he doesn't help you.

He's also smart. He'll walk or pitch around a batter when it makes perfect sense. But you don't see those random four pitch walks that come out of nowhere and start rallies. He just doesn't do that. The Rockies, no matter who the starter is, seem to do that one or twice a night. It's maddening.

Offense: Add two more solo home runs to the pile. Aside from that, it was lousy. Wasted chances with a runner on third and less than two outs. The Wigginton double play. The Herrera double play earlier that wiped out a Carlos Gonzalez leadoff single ahead of Giambi's home run. All they had to do was scrape together one run aside from the homers and they couldn't.

Chris Iannetta's 0-for-4 with three strikeouts were a big part of that problem. I'm more bothered by that than the play at home.

Overall: Rockies haven't played well since Friday in New York. Any coincidence that the lackluster play started the day Jim Tracy mailed one in? Honestly, yes, it probably is a coincidence. But it goes to show how silly it is to just give one away. This team isn't good enough right now to overcome those in the long run.