Record: 1-1. Change on last season: 0
"That will never happen again. It will never happen again. He'll never do that again."
-- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle
Actually, we have a tape recording of Hurdle's post-game press conference. In it, he eloquently expresses his thoughts after Cory Sullivan was picked off first on a snap throw down to Clark by Estrada...to end the game...with Todd Helton (already intentionally walked twice) left stranded in the on-deck circle...rather than coming to the plate as the tying run:
[mp3, very not safe for work!]
Yes, anyone who remembers the late, unlamented Luis Terrero falling for some slick sleight-of-hand while standing on third base, will appreciate exactly how not funny it is, when a player on your team does something really stoopid. On the other hand, when an opposing player gets caught out, it's a gut-busting laugh riot that leaves a warm glow all the way to the next game. There, but for the grace of whichever deity you believe in, go we - which when translated, simply means, enjoy it while we can.
Said Hurdle of Sullivan - no doubt, loadng his nail-gun for the next time Sullivan reaches first: "He's thinking about breaking up a double play. That's priority Z on the list. Priority one is not getting picked off and not letting Helton swing the bat." Yes, priorities in Colorado apparently run from one through Z: where is the switch-over point? After Priority five, is the next in line, Priority N? Enquiring minds want to know. Er, okay, actually, they don't but it's certainly easy to see why Hurdle, near-apoplectic with rage at his young center fielder, lost track of the difference between letters and numbers. I imagine the manager ended his press conference gabbling in machine-code, and with an impromptu rendition of Daisy, Daisy.
Smug snarkiness aside, the major highlight was another strong pitching performance, once again limiting the Rockies to two runs over nine innings [their third in the opener came in extra frames, don't forget]. Hernandez may only have given us five innings, but he flummoxed the young Colorado lineup with an array of angles and speeds, from as low as 63 mph, all the way up 90. He totally schooled Matt Holliday, fanning him all three times they faced each other, and struck out eight in total. He allowed six hits and two walks, but only one earned run.
A strong effort from (most of) our bullpen followed, one-hitting the Rockies for the last four frames: slightly worrying to see four free passes, but no harm came of them. Another less-than whelming performance from Mulholland, who walked the first hitter he faced on four straight balls, and was yanked after the baserunner was sacrificed to second. Lyon did a good job tidying up afterwards, and apart from another four-pitch walk, Valverde looked sharp in the ninth - albeit helped out by Sullivan's bout of narcolepsy.
[Sheesh, just noticed only 18,553 at Coors last night. Sad for a team who led the NL in attendance every year from 1993-1999, and as recently as 2001, were getting an average crowd of over 39,000: this year, it'll probably be not much more than half that. Mind you, noticed during the game, they were offering half-price tickets for the upper deck on our home opener, so clearly not a sellout, even for that. And wonder how many will be at our second home game: that'll be our first one of the year, so we'll get to see that in person. Probably around 20,000 too, I'd guess]
Hitting-wise, it was nice to see us get off to a good start: top of the first, Counsell singled, Hudson doubled, and a ground-out from Tracy [who has more RBIs than hits this year!] followed by another single, from Gonzo, brought both runners home. Luis had the best day - he was about the only guy who could solve Cook's splitter effectively, and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Clark, replacing Jackson, went 0-for-2 with a walk and an HBP: we face two Brewer lefties over the weekend, so he may not see much playing time in that series. And DaVanon, in center for Byrnes, looked very lost, misplaying a couple of balls, one so badly he was charged with an error. He certainly didn't do much to justify any increase in playing time, but today's game, when we face a left-handed pitcher for the first time, might be an interesting test.
It's already been announced that Easley will replace Counsell tonight, and Snyder replaces Estrada. The latter switch is almost a bank when it comes to facing lefties, and Counsell's struggles against them are also well-documented [career OPS vs. RHP: .703; vs. LHP: .671]. But it'll be the outfield where things get interesting: even allowing for yesterday's RBI, Shawn Green can't hit left-handed pitching worth a damn - his OPS is 129 points lower than against righties over his career. Will BoMel sit him? Today's comments from Melvin, that Green is a superstar, would seem to make this unlikely - but we'll see.