Rockies relievers take two steps back |

Rockies relievers take two steps back

Tracy RingolsbyRocky Mountain NewsVail, CO Colorado

PITTSBURGH Try as the Rockies might to keep their focus on what’s happening today, the failures of the past two nights make it difficult to avoid looking at a big picture.And it’s not a pretty picture to look at.Fresh off a sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati, the Rockies arrived at PNC Park on Monday night seemingly ready to make a move on the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.They came out of the All-Star break and swept a four-game series from the Pirates at Coors Field to rev up the idea a second- half surge was in the offing.And since then, the Pirates had dealt their most consistent reliever, Damaso Marte, and one of their key bats, Xavier Nady, to the Yankees. They had lost their most consistent hitter, Adam LaRoche, to the disabled list, and second baseman Freddy Sanchez is on the bench nursing a back problem.Now look at the Rockies.Two days later and they are coming off back-to-back come- from-ahead losses, the Pirates rallying for a 6-4 win Tuesday night. The Pirates took advantage of Rockies baserunning blunders and a midgame bullpen blow up for the second game in a row.The night after the Pirates turned a 3-0 deficit into an 8-4 come-from-behind victory, they erased a 4-0 Rockies lead en route to the win Tuesday.”These are games we need to win, especially when we lead on the road,” left fielder Matt Holliday said. “That’s what makes it frustrating. We have to turn the page and move on to (today). We can’t hang our heads.”Sounds good.But is it that easy?Can the Rockies wash aside the fact the night after Valerio De Los Santos somehow managed to turn over a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning to the bullpen only to see it washed away, Glendon Rusch weaved his way through five innings and handed over a 4-3 lead that Matt Herges couldn’t protect for two batters?Jason Bay led off the sixth with a single and scored the tying run on an ensuing double from Doug Mientkiewicz, who scored the go- ahead run on a Chris Gomez sacrifice fly.And if that’s not a big enough gut-punch, in the top of that inning, the Rockies, for the second night in a row, stumbled on the bases to set the stage for the Pirates’ 26th come-from-behind victory in their 50 wins this season.Monday, it was third-base coach Mike Gallego, ignoring the fact shortstop Troy Tulowitzki isn’t at full speed because of a sizable bruise on his left thigh and trying to score Tulowitzki from first on a Yorvit Torrealba double that seemed to turn around the game.Tuesday, it was Tulowitzki, trying to cheat a bit too much off second, then getting trapped in no man’s land on Seth Smith’s infield single to shortstop, resulting in Tulowitzki being tagged out and turning what could have been a bases-loaded, one-out situation into two outs with runners on first and third.”It’s still my fault,” Tulowitzki said. “I was too aggressive. I got too far into no man’s land. There’s no excuse.”The Rockies do want to think there still is hope in the NL West.But with only 54 games remaining, they know the opportunities are dwindling.”It is definitely frustrating to get the lead early, to get off to a good start, and then not finish it off,” Tulowitzki said.What adds to the frustrations is that while the starting pitching has been the glaring concern as the Rockies look for ways to get better before Thursday’s deadline to make a trade without having to put a player through waivers, the piecemeal starting corps has at least left them in a position to win the past two nights.It has been the bullpen that didn’t get the job done. After Jason Grilli saw a 3-0 lead turned into a 4-3 deficit in his one inning Monday, the struggles continued for Herges, who turned a 4-3 lead into a tie score two batters and three pitches into his appearance Tuesday. And Herges found himself and the Rockies on the short end of a 5-4 score by the end of his inning.”I don’t think we feel added pressure, but we realize the magnitude of these games,” said Herges, who has allowed 11 runs in 7 2/3 innings his past seven appearances. “And then to not get the job done. It is frustrating.”Subscribe to the Rocky Mountain NewsComments * July 29, 2008 8:51 p.m. Suggest removal 1somelikeithot writes: Now that Taveras will see more playing time and if he can stay healthy he’s probably going to have at least 70 SB’s this season. If and when he can get on base, he’s on fire. Really an off night for these Rockies, there’s always tomarrow. I’m getting dizzy on this roller coaster ride. One day, let’s trade, next day, let’s not trade and so on and so on. I’ll be glad when it’s Friday. * July 29, 2008 9:35 p.m. Suggest removal roxtalk writes: Tracy, What kind of direction does the runner at third get from the third base coach, in the incident you have described in your article? Seems to me this would have been an ideal situation to do some coaching as the play developed. You appear to have placed the onus on the runner/runners, what is the coach there for? * July 29, 2008 9:46 p.m. Suggest removal SDcat writes: ugh…these boys are gonna give me a stroke! Terrible baserunning…It almost looked they didn’t care. Maybe they’ve been playing great for all the scouts that have been attending our games. And now that O’Dud and Hurdle seem to think no trades will be made, they don’t care? Maybe some were seriously auditioning and want to be traded…we know Yorvit does(which I think is a terrible idea..who else can catch?) * July 29, 2008 9:46 p.m. Suggest removal RDenver writes: Absolutely pathetic! How do professional baseball players like Tulo make such a blunder running bases? Then Stewart coming home and getting thrown out? So the question is…what is Mike Gallegos doing as a 3rd base coach? Base running blunders like tonight show how bad a team is fundamentally and that falls on the coaching staff. Oh..nevermind….Hurdle can do no wrong…my bad! * July 29, 2008 10:40 p.m. Suggest removal PirateFan writes: Nice coverage of the game tonight, Tracy, but just how in the world do you come off calling the Pirates “hapless” when we’ve got a better record than the Rockies, AND play in a tougher division this year. This is so funny because a columnist in Houston used the “H” word on the Pirates last week as the Bucs were sweeping them. And the Astros have a poor record, too. Granted, both the Rockies and the Astros have been a lot more used to winning in recent history than the Pirates – who haven’t had a winning record in 15 years. But spare us the “H” word while you’re not as good as we are – at least on paper. * July 29, 2008 11:29 p.m. Suggest removal craig7078 writes: Nobody mentions Hurdle’s insanity of leading the majors in giving up outs. Bunting with Ianetta with men on first and 2nd and no outs. The moron manager kills more big innings than any manager I’ve ever seen. Of course they didn’t score after that move. This is the same guy that made the famous statement after he took over the job. “No more of that bunting crap” and he leads the majors every year. The 3rd base coach should have been fired long ago. These guys seem to have jobs for life. Hurdle always throws his players under the bus but him and his coaches are not accountable for anything. * July 30, 2008 6:55 a.m. Suggest removal Hambone writes: Funny how most are railing on the 3rd base coach. What about the pitching? Two straight games giving up the lead because the pen decides to throw batting practice. C’mon Cookie!!!! Throw a cg so we don’t have to see the pen!! Or at least go 7 so Buchholtz and Fuentes can close it. * July 30, 2008 8:05 a.m. Suggest removal dakar writes: Can’t blame the 3rd base coach for Tulo’s mistake, that was all Tulo. But he s/h kept Ian at 3rd on that bunt hit, that we should blame him for. Even if the Rockies have scored 2 more runs they lose so that was a combo of poor pitching and mistakes. Have to like Rusch out there, he at least gives the Rocks a chance to win.Post your commentRegistration is required. Click here to create your free user account, or login below.Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. 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