Saturday, April 30, 2005
Juxtaposition: Dodgers 6, Rockies 2
So the Dodgers came through, but it was the Rocks that shocked me to some degree. Joe Kennedy, who tossed 51 pitches to get through the first four innings, suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed in the fifth to give up five runs, three on an unexpected Jason Repko home run. There was a dialogue in our living room that went something like this: I was sitting peaceably in the living room explaining to my wife how Kennedy is one of the majors underrated pitchers (he owns the Rockies' franchise best single-season ERA of 3.66), when up comes Repko. They flash Repko's stats again -- .238/.333/.476 before tonight's game -- just after Izturis singled, and something like the following ensued:
Rob: Kennedy's one of the underrated pitchers in the majors -- he's better than that 8.18 ERA up there.And, yes, I am glad, but I would like to know what kind of ganja Tracy was smoking to put the weak-hitting Repko so high in the batting order. He scares me, and I really can't wait for Werth to come back.
Helen: Are you sure? He is pitching in Colorado, you know.
Rob: Yeah, he put up great numbers last year. It's just early season flukiness.
Rob: Damn, Tracy screwed up batting Repko second. He should be batting sixth or seventh.
Helen: (Repko knocks a homer into the bleachers.) Wow, bet you're glad he's hitting second today!
Byun-Hyun Kim, a sad tale if ever there was one, doesn't look like he's learned that much after knocking around Boston for two years. Two walks in two outs and a wild pitch scoring a run isn't the kind of performance that encourages anyone to think the Rocks will pull their club out from its long run of awfulness.
On the other hand: Clint Barmes is just spectacular, and his .410 April gives a sign of spring to a Rockies farm system that may be one of the most underrated in baseball. (Baseball America ranked them sixth best in the 2005 Prospect Handbook.) He fields easily, and so far his hitting is simply phenominal. Todd Helton, despite a slow start, can be counted on to recover, and Preston Wilson is a good player, too. You can see signs of the Rocks starting, slowly, to recover from their bottom-dwelling.
Meantime, in San Diego, Brian Lawrence 2-hit the Snakes, beating Arizona 2-0, and extending the Dodgers' lead in the division to a game and a half. The Giants, in Pittsburgh, beat the Pirates 7-6 behind Noah Lowry. Lowry, whose second turn through the majors isn't going as smoothly as his freshman year, now sports a 5.60 ERA, giving up four earned runs, three walks, and two strikeouts in 4.1 innings, disqualifying him for the win, which went to reliever Tyler Walker. The Giants are now 3.0 games back of the Dodgers, and have won five of their last eight games, when Moises Alou returned to the lineup. Of course, that includes three-game series with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, so it's not exactly convincing.
Aside from Lowry's frightful appearance (how can you not strike out the Pirates?), the Giants figured the surest path to victory was to not expose the other team to any one bullpen pitcher too long. Hence, a total of eight Giant pitchers ascended the mound, surrendering a grand total of two earned runs. (Aside: did anyone else note when former Angel Al Levine joined the Giants?) Still, you have to beat the bad teams to contend, and that they did -- barely. Minus Bonds, and still only three out? It's not a great position to be in, but Giants fans shouldn't be panicking, either.
Finally: Wilson Alvarez is ready to return, and might make it back as early as tomorrow.