Today the Rockies had a chance to put away the Cubs, get a sweep, get back to .500. But they couldn’t do it. The bullpen couldn’t hold on to a three-run lead. Oddly, it wasn’t the culprits we’ve become used to, as the usually solid Ramon Ramirez and Manuel Corpas were responsible for three of the four runs. Corpas faced four batters and didn’t retire anybody, giving up a three-run double to rookie Ryan Theriot that gave the Cubs the lead.
Once again, there were plenty of runs to be had. Cubs starter Carlos Marmol walked eight batters in five innings. While the Rockies did get six runs off him, that turned out not to be enough.
One of the key players in the series was Ryan Spilborghs. Spilborghs was called up from the minors before Friday’s game, started each game of the series, and went 6-for-11 with three doubles and five RBI. Spilborghs is the team’s starting center fielder until further notice. Although he’s probably not as good of a defensive center fielder as either Sully or Choo, his bat looks as though it will make up for whatever the Rockies lose defensively by playing him every day. Spilborghs even threw in a stolen base today.
The other hero in the series was Garrett Atkins, whose grand slam today was his second homer of the series after hitting a three-run homer on Friday night. Garrett went 4-for-9 in the series, obviously with the two homers, and drew six walks. He’s now hitting .309 on the season and has a .387 OBP. What’s more, his 80 RBI lead the team — it looks like Atkins and Spilborghs may be the answers to the team’s problems of hitting with men in scoring position.
It would have been nice to win today, but I’ll take two of three any time (even though we could have had a sweep.) That brings the Diamondbacks to town for what — I keep saying this, don’t I? — is a really big series. The truth is that until the Rockies go on a lengthy losing skid and fall out of contention, every series is huge. This one is just even bigger because we can make up ground directly on the Diamondbacks, who are currently third in both the West and the wild card, with a good series. Get a sweep, we’re two games ahead of them. Get swept and, well, we’re six games back, and unless the Padres and Dodgers both start flopping, we can probably forget about it.
The bigger story, though, is getting over .500 again, which we can do with a sweep. Getting to the playoffs would be nice, but finishing .500 for the season would be a nice step to show that the team is on the right track. With plenty of talent on the way from the minors, the Rockies can really build on a good year.
Monday night’s game pits the Franchise against Claudio Vargas. Vargas has been okay this year, but he’s also got an ERA over 5. The bad news is that the Rockies couldn’t figure him out on July 21 at Chase, as he beat the Rockies 6-2. Tuesday’s starter, Miguel Batista, has faced the Rockies three times this season and the Diamondbacks have won all three, though Miguel is just 1-0. Overall, he’s 10-5 on the season and, more importantly, the Diamondbacks are 17-7 when Miguel is pitching, including eight wins in his last nine starts. He’s pitching against JJ, though, and the Diamondbacks just can’t seem to figure him out. In two starts against the Diamondbacks this season, JJ’s thrown fifteen innings and surrendered just two runs, twelve hits, and two walks while striking out fourteen. He’s 4-5 in fifteen career starts against the D-backs, however.
The newest Diamondback, Livan Hernandez, will be pitching against the Rockies on Wednesday for the second time this season. On June 15, the Rockies shelled Hernandez (then a member of the Nationals) to the tune of six runs (five earned) in 6.2 innings, getting eight hits and five walks off him. He’s 9-9 with a 5.30 ERA on the season, and remember, he’s only made one start as a member of the Diamondbacks, so that 5.30 was coming with many games at pitcher-friendly RFK. Of course, he’s an accomplished pitcher who just isn’t having a great season. Aaron Cook will oppose him.
Then, on Thursday, it’s Brandon Webb. What do I need to say about him? 13-4 with a 2.77 ERA. Against the Rockies this season, he’s given up just two runs in fourteen innings, though he’s gotten a no decision both times. Unlike the first two times, Webb will not be opposed by JJ this time; instead, he’ll be opposed by Josh Fogg. I don’t really like our chances.