Rockies 4, Nationals 2 (boxscore)
Winning Player: Jeff Francis - 5 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 66 pitches (48 strikes)
Francis pitched a terrific game tonight. He even HIT for himself in the 5th inning, which further cements how good and efficient he was to that point.
Only, it really didn't, because Francis never took the mound in the 6th despite being nine pitches under the limit.
I guess the whole Josh Outman thing backfiring so epically in Texas will now lead to more erring on the side of caution, rather than sending a guy out there with his pitch count and a potential win in the back of his mind. That's fine, I guess. As long as they're consistent with it, I can't bash that specific thought process (that lies within a bigger thought process that is indeed the lamest thing ever) too much.
Also, still not a big fan of giving away free outs to a guy like Stephen Strasburg, but I can actually see the logic in not burning a pinch-hitter that early with a two out, non-scoring opportunity.
I just used the word logic to describe a Rockies strategy. I may need a moment to collect myself.
I also think the only two people in the world embracing this pitching gimmick right now are Dan O'Dowd and Jeff Francis. Seriously, Francis has excelled in his three outings since the plan was put in place. And the Rockies are 3-0 in those games (1-6 in the others).
Good for him. Good for the Rockies. They've actually managed to maximize (kind of) the talents of a starting pitcher.
And I should applaud the bullpen as well, because through the first 10 games of the experiment they have held up surprisingly well (against damn good offenses). That continued tonight with Josh Roenicke (win), Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt combining for four more scoreless innings. Now we'll have to see how long they hold up at this pace.
Turning Point: The two runs to beat Stephen Strasburg in the 6th inning were nice (highlighted by Carlos Gonzalez's RBI single and Todd Helton's sac fly), but the determining factor to me was holding Bryce Harper (0-for-4, three strikeouts) in check. That was almost the most satisfying part of the game.
Screengrab of the Game
What's Next: The Rockies go from one potential All-Star Game starting pitcher to perhaps an even better candidate in Gio Gonzalez (9-3, 2.55). He'll be opposed by Christian Friedrich (4-4, 5.65). First pitch is again scheduled for 6:40.
Final Thoughts: Lost in the wake of Dan O'Dowd's nonsensical interview this weekend was a good article from Troy Renck on what he thinks the Rockies need to do and where their focus should be in the final three plus months.
Renck's points are absolutely on point, unlike the garbage Woody Paige suggested while writing the same topic. When in doubt, trust the folks who love the game and cover it for a living.