Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rock Solid Recrap: Nicasio's Dominance Not Enough To Overcome Rockies Offensive Woes

Dodgers 2, Rockies 1 (boxscore)

What Went Wrong: I could just copy and paste what I wrote last night and change Chris Capuano to Aaron Harang. Just another one of those typical west coast Rockies game where the offense failed to put pressure on the opposing pitcher. Been there. Seen it 1,000 times. What more can you say?

Turning Point: The entire top of the third was Rockies baseball at its lousy in-game managing, awful execution worst.

Well, maybe not all awful. Juan Nicasio did successfully bunt Wilin Rosario to third after his lead-off double. But that only led to Jim Tracy putting on the dreaded contact play, which predictably failed when Marco Scutaro grounded sharply to James Loney. Loney dove to his right to make the stop and still had plenty of time to gun down Rosario by several feet at home plate. Not close.

Naturally, Jonathan Herrera followed this with a bloop double, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Los Angeles then passed on Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases for Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo fouled off the first pitch before flying out harmlessly to straight away center on the second, meaning his RBI total for May is still the same as yours and mine.

That's not good enough, obviously. And I say that fully understanding Tulowitzki will eventually get it together and put up fantastic numbers this season. But the Rockies really need that to be happening now. There's just no denying or escaping that, and because of it the universal frustration with Tulo is becoming more justifiable by the day.

Juan Nicasio's Line: 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 9 K, 102 pitches (64 strikes)

Nicasio is so much fun to watch when he's on.

Tonight, he was ON... and then some.

Nicasio pounded the strike zone, showed no fear against the likes of Matt Kemp, and pitched with the confidence and urgency you'd expect from a veteran that has spent years at the top of a starting rotation.

Unfortunately, he was walking a razor's edge that didn't allow even one mistake if he wanted a win. That one mistake came on an 0-2 pitch to Juan Uribe in the 5th. Uribe dumped it into centerfield for an RBI single to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.

But that blip aside, my God was he impressive. Dominant even. Just brilliant. Juan Nicasio.

Screengrabs of the Game
Spitting on yourself  >  Contact play
Forgetting the number of outs  >  Contact play
Running into Todd Helton  >  Contact play
Highlight of the Night: During the Lineup Card I mentioned Jim Tracy had almost no choice but to start Tyler Colvin tonight to see if he could provide something, anything in centerfield. Well, Colvin most certainly provided. Just too bad he was the only one.

What's Next:  It's a Sunday at Dodger Stadium and the Rockies are trying to avoid a sweep. That probably doesn't bode well for Alex White (0-1, 2.84), who will make his second start of 2012. Ted Lilly (4-0, 1.41), on the other hand, has to be feeling pretty confident. If you recall, he held to the Rockies to two runs over six innings on May 1 at Coors Field. First pitch is 2:10 MT.

Final Thoughts: Some discussion on Twitter tonight about the opponents hitting extremely well against Rockies pitchers in 0-2, 1-2 counts this season. Frank (@druidlove) pointed out a comment by Jack Corrigan on Rockies' radio pertaining to Wilin Rosaro's calls behind the plate in those counts after Matt Belisle's 0-2 pitch in the 8th was hit for a single, which actually produced the winning run, much the same way the Nicasio's 0-2 pitch cost him earlier.

Here's a look at both pitches

You can see Wilin Rosario make the call for both pitches to be elevated fastballs. Nicasio's ended up right down the middle, which simply cannot happen. Belisle's was in a slightly better place, but obviously not unhittable given the contact and result. Definitely poor execution on the specific pitches, but given the results here and the results we've seen in these spots all season, it appears we have a philosophical problem with the Rockies approach that can easily be traced back to Bob Apodaca. 

I could be entirely wrong, but despite the fact that Rosario is the guy who called both of those pitches, I'm sure this is something that is talked about and emphasized in game plans and bullpen sessions leading into games, not just something he comes up with on the fly. Again, I honestly could be wrong about that, but regardless of where the instruction comes from, it's proven flawed and the Rockies have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to finishing hitters.  

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