Monday, August 8, 2011

Rock Solid Recap: The Reds look familiar to me

If the Rockies are the most disappointing team in baseball, which I fully believe they are, then the Cincinnati Reds are a close second. They took control of the NL Central last season. With a whole season of Aroldis Chapman, a healthy Edinson Volquez, and a pretty solid crop of young starting pitchers coming along, it seemed like they were destined to repeat this season and possibly beyond.

That all sounds familiar. Just change a few names and divisions.

It hasn't happened for them. There have been injuries along the way. Volquez has gone from the ace to constantly shuffling back and forth with AAA Louisville. The young pitchers are still feeling their way. But above all else, and I've seen this several times when watching them, their fundamentals, baserunning, clutching hitting and all around execution are all terrible.

Baseball being baseball strikes again. Every new season is exactly that - a new season. We've learned that the hard way a couple times over the past five years. Reds fans are relearning it for themselves right now.

But you aren't here to read about the Reds and how sad and disappointing they are. And I surely don't mean to take away from...

Rockies 10, Reds 7 (boxscore)

It's a nice win. Especially when you look at the performance of the offense. A relentless attack spanning nine innings. That just doesn't happen enough, especially against pitchers you feel they should take advantage of. And it doesn't happen enough when their own starting pitcher puts them the eight ball early, which is exactly what Jason Hammel did here.

Another really rough outing for Jason during this stretch that still has me wondering about the health of his back, arm, and maybe even mentally. Obviously Hammel himself and Jim Tracy aren't worried about anything, or else there's no way he comes back after that rain delay.

Even then I don't think Jim Tracy would have done it if the bullpen was in better shape and the schedule ahead wasn't so packed. The Rockies next off day is still nine days off, so sending him back out there was almost necessary. Again, probably not the smartest idea, but throw smart out the window sometimes when the circumstances dictate it that way.

Unfortunately, his first inning after the delay was as bad as the first inning (allowed three runs in both), which means the bullpen didn't get as much rest as hoped. But I'll credit Hammel anyway for going out there.

Three positives

1. Late inning relief: Hey, I'll be honest, it feels like it's been awhile since the Rockies have thrown clean 8th and 9th innings in the same game. Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street did it tonight. Dominant frames for both men.

2. Seth Smith: No one was happier about the game resuming than Seth. Those two home runs are his forever.

3. Carlos Gonzalez: A lot of guys really had nice offensive games. Smith, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler, Mark Ellis (weird bunt attempt aside), and even Ty Wigginton, but none more encouraging than Carlos Gonzalez's. It's nice to see that power stroke back, and it's nice to see him be a difference maker again late in a game.

Final thought

Well, the Rockies are 1-0 on what I've predicted will be a winning road trip. If the offense can stay locked in, it could be a very fun trip. Cincinnati isn't good right now. St. Louis doesn't scare me a lot either. Let's beat up some more on the NL Central... and then asked to be moved there.