Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rock Solid Recrap: Tracy, Bullpen fall apart in 7th inning

Brewers 9, Rockies 4 (boxscore)

What Went Wrong: The Rockies bullpen has been a strength in the early going.

Tonight, not so much.

It started in the sixth inning as Jim Tracy called on Esmil Rogers to protect a one run lead. Rogers, who had put together four scoreless relief appearances — retiring at least four batters in each — to begin the season, was greeted by a game-tying Ryan Braun home run.

That you could live with. However, Tracy elected to stick with Rogers (18 pitches in the sixth) into the seventh, and the wheels promptly fell off as three of the first four Brewers reached, including a Rickie Weeks RBI triple.

So Rogers gets the hook with Colorado now trailing 5-3. In comes Edgmer Escalona, who proceeds to throw gas on the fire beginning with a Ryan Braun RBI triple and ending with an Alex Gonzalez three-run homer.

9-3 Brewers. Game over.

Other problems: Managing only two hits and striking out nine times against injury fill-in Marco Estrada wasn't exactly inspiring. Marco Scutaro was one of those victims, striking out for the first time in 2012. Maybe he'll only strikeout against pitchers named Marco.

Oh, and remember how I was praising Wilin Rosario for his work behind the plate in his early starts? BIG step back tonight with some lousy (perhaps lazy) footwork leading to a pair of passed balls and a wild pitch. He needs to bring it every night.

Turning Point: Back to Jim Tracy's odd use of the bullpen in the seventh.

I didn't have a problem with going to Rogers in the sixth, but I'm stunned he stuck with him so long in the seventh. I mean this is the same Jim Tracy that made four pitching changes in the seventh inning of Rockies-Brewers game I attended a couple years ago, so the long leash here was puzzling. But even more puzzling was the decision to not back Rogers up with Matt Belisle in that spot. If there was ever a situation that screamed Matt Belisle's name, that was it. Yet he made the decision to warm up and use Escalona there.

I'm not sure which word is more appropriate: dumb or weird?

Drew Pomeranz's Line: 5 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 75 pitches (42 strikes)

Pomeranz was indeed sharper on Saturday night... at least for the first four innings, which were flawless (12 up, 12 down, 6 strikeouts).

Unfortunately, he started the fifth with a four-pitch walk and then things unraveled with back-to-back doubles immediately following. That gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead, which seemed destined to expand, but luckily for Pomeranz — who also walked two more in the inning — Milwaukee skipper Ron Roemicke let him off with a sacrifice bunt (one out) and the dreaded contact play (two out), and then Fowler saved his bacon by running down a Carlos Gomez drive with the bases juiced (three out).

Bottom line: It should have been a lot worse.

On the positive side, it's better to have had good stuff for four innings and lost it than to not have it at all and give your team no chance like he did in his 2012 debut. On Saturday night, we caught an extended glimpse of Pomeranz's upside. We're likely to see a lot more of it as he gets comfortable. It's just a matter of going through that process with Drew, allowing him to make his adjustments, and maintaining patience with him.

The latter part of that last sentence was intended for Jim Tracy.

Highlight of the Night: I neglected to mention Todd Helton's home run last night (hey, we had a lot of heroes in that win), but I won't make that mistake twice.

I actually would have preferred a clip of his first stolen base since Aug 17, 2006, but MLB wouldn't comply. Damn them. So settle for this instead.

Screengrabs of the Game
There's Todd stealing second... standing up!
Not even tired. (Root Sports)
Of course Todd's steal was the back end of an uncontested double steal, but that's a minor detail to this extraordinary event.

What's Next: The Rockies will hand the ball to Jeremy Guthrie on Sunday afternoon as they look to secure the series win. Who backs up Guthrie on the field is anybody's guess, but I do have one hunch I'll mention in a sec. The Brewers will counter with one of their horses: Yovani Gallardo. First pitch is set for 12:10 MT.

Final Thought: Chris Nelson was 0-for-4 in this game and is now 0-for-14 in his four road starts this season. I believe you can safely pencil in Jonathan Herrera at the hot corner tomorrow.

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton