Category: Dailies

Put a fork in ’em?

For days, this forum has been silent. The glass is always half full here–and by that, we mean that there’s always an optimistic outlook. But, after an 0-6 road trip, with sweeps by the Mets and the Brew Crew, our glass was half full of whiskey. We were ready to say, put a fork in the Rox, because they’re done. They couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position, and were even worse with runners in scoring position and two outs. But then the Padres rolled into town, and the Rox bats awoke with a 13-run output in the first game, and a series victory.

I was ready to pull out the "Best Last Place Team In Baseball" sign. I was ready to bring it to the game on Saturday. And maybe I should. Have the Rox really proven that they are anything but a last place team? As of today, they’re 7 games out of first, and once again in the familiar cellar that they owned all of last season.

On the bright side–and that’s what we always focus on here–the Rox played some meaningful games in August. And that’s a **** of a lot better than can be said for them last year.

BABY ICHIRO
With such a struggling offense of late, Rox manager Clint Hurdle has been looking for someone to provide that spark to get a struggling offense going. Jamey Carroll will always be our boy here at On The Rox, but his recent struggles at the plate are a huge contributing factor to he fate of the Rox. As goes the team catalyst, so goes the team. So, Hurdle has looked to a new member of the Rox infield over the past week to jumpstart things. Kaz Matsui, acquired in a trade from the Mets earlier this season for Eli Marrero, was called up last week and has seen immediate insertion in the Rox line-up, splitting time between 2B and SS, with primary playing time at SS. Kaz brings the element of left-handed speed at the top of the Rox line-up, a very valuable asset. In his first week, we have personally seen him leg out 3 hits that no other member of the Rockies–save Choo Freeman–would have beaten out. Kaz’s left-handed slap-and-run and super-speed is reminiscent of the great Ichiro. Even the way he bends and stretches before getting into the batter’s box reminds of faintly of Ichiro. So, the Rockies got their very own Baby Ichiro.

FIRE BLEYER

Now, I don’t know if Keith Bleyer reads On The Rox or not, and let’s hope he doesn’t because I don’t wanna hurt his feelings. But, personally, I can’t stand the guy. I can’t put my finger on it really, but I guess it’s because he’s just kind of a little wiener. I mean, he’s confident, he’s poised on air, he’d be great hosting anything else, I just don’t like his personality mixed in with baseball.

So, who do we want to replace him? How about Erica Irene from ManiaTV.com? Denver is home to live Internet TV channel ManiaTV.com, and their morning host "CJ Erica" is a self-proclaimed Rockies fan. She’s got the looks, the poise, the energy, the experience and the baseball knowledge to do a bang-up job hosting the FSN Rockies Pre-game show. Plus, her interview skills would bring out more about each player’s personal lives that we get with the current hosts. So, FSN brass, if you’re reading, get your headhunters ready. Fire Bleyer, Hire Erica.

You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

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Men At Arms

Too much has been made of the humidor at Coors Field–this blog included. After all, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News wrote to me toinform me that the humidor was put in place 5 years ago, not this year. So why is everyone making a big deal about it this year? Former Rox 3B Jeff Cirillo helped launch the witch hunt, calling the humidor-stored baseballs "soggy" and going so far as to accuse the Rockies of switching baseballs late in games–using the "soggy" baseballs on defense and dry balls when hitting. Clearly, Cirillo is delusionsal–the umpires rub up all the baseballs prior to the game and store them in safe place. MLB officials inspected the baseballs used at Coors Field and gave them the A-OK. The only reason people are making a big deal this year is because the Rox pitching staff can freakin’ bring it.

Taking a look at the Home/Away marks for the Rockies starting rotation offers some evidence that the credit needs to go to the pitchers and not to the humidor.

Jason Jennings’ ERA at home is 2.83 and 3.79 on the road.
Jeff Francis’ ERA at home is 2.96 and 3.71 on the road.
Aaron Cook’s ERA at home is 4.07 and 4.11 on the road.
Josh Fogg’s ERA at home is 5.37 and 3.88 on the road.
Byun-Hyun Kim’s ERA at home is 3.05 and 7.32 on the road
.

Looking at these numbers, one thing becomes clear: If the Rockies could score any runs for Francis and Jennings, they would both have their hat in the Cy Young race. Both Jennings and Francis’ ERAs are about a run lower at home than on the road. Kim’s ERA is a staggering 4 runs lower at home than on the road. Cook is close to even at home and on the road, and Fogg is the only starter with a lower ERA away from the friendly confines of Coors Field.

Rox top three starters make the case that the humidor doesn’t make that much of a difference. Pitchers typically pitch better at home, and this can be chalked up to sleeping in their own bed, being around family, around their regular routine, and having the support of the hometown fans.

Fogg helps make the case that the humidor makes no difference, with a much lower road ERA. And Kim’s ERA is freakishly lower at home, which doesn’t help our arguement, but must be mentioned. Kim is an emotional guy out on the hill, and maybe–just maybe–he lets visiting fans get into his head on the road. We’re just trying to make excuses for him.

Needless to say, this year’s Rox staff–which has posted a NL leading mark in ERA–is the best ever in team history. And Cirillo…. well, we figure he’s just pissed that his .362 home batting average in the pre-humidor 2002 season is altitude inflated.

Donde Esta: Rockies Bats?
Calling Rockies bats…where are you? Where have you gone? Long time, no see. Rockies are getting plenty of hits, but they aren’t scoring any runs. Why? Well, the Rox can’t seem to hit with runners in scoring position. They need to find the clutch. But seeing as how the glass is always half full, we’re required to mention that if the Rox hitters can grow a set and find their clutch hitting, well they could make a legitimate run at the Wild Card or the division title. But, until they can hit, they’ll continue to see their GB (games back) number grow….and that makes us sad!

Dear Rockies, please hit. Sincerely, all of us.

You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!

Last season, after a dismal, DISMAL start to the season, the Rox finally started putting things together around the All-Star break, and played some pretty good baseball over the second half of the season. During that second half, ever the suppliers of glass-is-half-full sentiment, we made a big purple banner that we brought to the games with us. The sign read: BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL. It was something we took seriously, especially when the Rox took on another last place ball club from one of the other divisions. It was something we truly believed was true. It was extra sweet when the Rox would play a first place club like the Cardinals. We’d sit in the left field seats at Coors Field just waiting for the Rox to score, and when they did, we’d bust out the sign and taunt the stupid Cardinals and their stupid, Midwest, road-trippin’, Budweiser drinkin’ fans.

Well, we have tickets to the Rox/Padres game tonight, and with the Rox trailing 6-0 yesterday, and then 8-3, my fiancee, her father and I had an in depth conversation about whether or not we should bring our BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL sign. If the Rox lost, they would have dropped to 7.5 games out, and technically wouldn’t have been in last–they would have been a half game ahead of the free-falling Dodgers, but they point is, we had the conversation. Oh, we of little faith.

YORVIE TO THE RESCUE
The other banner we made last year reads: LODO MOJO. And maybe that’s the sign we should bring tonight because that’s exactly what the Rox had working for them last night. In the 9th inning, after Matt Holliday grounded into a double play, things seemed grim. It seemed as though the Rox would drop another one. Two outs in the 9th, down by two, Todd Helton singled off of Trevor Hoffman.

Yorvit Torrealba strode to the plate. The Rox catcher has been hot as of late, hitting .339 over the last month with 3HR and 17 RBI, earning him a promotion in the Rox line-up from 7th to 6th. Good move, Clint Hurdle, good move. Torreabla jumped all over a first-pitch Hoffman fastball–shades of the All-Star game, Trevor?–and smacked a no-doubt-about-it homer into the left field cheap seats. The very same cheap seats my butt will be in tonight–without the BEST LAST PLACE TEAM IN BASEBALL banner.

Torrealba’s two-run blast sent the game to extra frames, and gave the Rox new life in a game they’d trailed since the first inning. In the 10th, Fuentes pitched a scoreless frame, setting up a tremendous walk-off victory. Choo Freeman, fresh off the bench and pinch-hitting for Fuentes, roped a double into the left field corner with one out. Victory seemed to be in the Rox grasp, with speed on second, and Jamey Carroll walking to the plate.

Carroll came through, yet again, with a single to right. Padres’ RF Brian Giles fielded the ball cleanly and chucked a strike to catcher Rob Bowen. Freeman came streaking around third, and the throw had him beat dead-to-rights, but Choo made a quick deak, diving under the tag and stealing a 9-8 come-from-behind victory for the boys of Denver.

HOW BIG WAS THIS WIN?
Instead of 7.5 games out of first, the Rox are now 5.5 out and right back into the race. Despite getting a rare bad outing from Josh Fogg, the Rox got their struggling bats going, and their struggling bullpen back on track, picking up a win for closer Brian Fuentes, evening his record at 3-3.

The win puts the Rox right back in the hunt in the NL West. With Byun-Yun Kim heading to the hill tonight, the Rox can now pull within 4.5 games of first place, with the possibility of pulling 2.5 games of the Padres by the end of this series. Rox fans, it’s time to believe that the glass really is half-full.

BRAD HAWPE DIVE WATCH: 240 games

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

Why it could be time to trade *gasp* Todd Helton

Can you feel the trade winds blowing east off the Rocky Mountains…blowing west off the Great Plains?  They are swirling, and the Rockies are said to be shopping RP Ray King and 1B Ryan Shealy.

With all due respect to the great Todd Helton and all the great things he’s done here in Colorado–a lifetime .335 hitter and great guy in the community–we have to throw out the idea of trading Todd Helton rather than Ryan Shealy. Why-oh-why would we even think this, seeing as we are the purveyors of all that is half-full? Well, it’s true that Helton brings verteran leadership to the ball club, but with his recent slump leaving his batting average at .279, his power numbers on a tremendous decline (He hit 20 last year, a far cry from his career high 49, and has 11 this year with 62 games to play), and his contract getting fatter with each passing year, it may be time for the Rockies to send him to a team where he can win a championship this year.

The Boston Red Sox would be the perfect fit. They need 1B help, and Helton would bring a great glove and a bat that could heat up in the Red Sox line-up. The Sox are in the play-off hunt, and it would seem they have deep enough pockets to pay his salary. Besides, Boston sent the Aves Ray Borque and then got to "share" the Stanley Cup. It seems to me, we owe them one.

But joking aside, most people would rather trade Shealy over Helton. If the Rox are going for a youth movement here in Colorado, let’s just go for it. Give Shealy a shot. Let him play every day. He’s certainly proven he’s capable of swinging the bat at the major league level. Last year in 36 games, Shealy hit .330 with 7 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI and 13 BB. We would hate to see a talented young player like Shealy leave the system because he can’t play every day. Certainly, with the way Helton is slumping, Shealy deserves more playing time than he’s currently seeing.

The Rox have proven that they can play well without their leader. The Rox were 8-6 during Helton’s absence earier this season with a stomach illness. And should they move Helton, they would have money freed up that could go toward locking up good young talent in the system, such as Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francis, Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook and Brad Hawpe.

HAWPE HEAD-FIRST

While we have not had the opportunity to watch every Rox game this year, there is one thing we have noticed in all the games we’ve seen, and we ask the baseball universe to correct us if we’re wrong, but it seems like Brad Hawpe utterly REFUSES to go head-first for any baseball on defense. In fact, in the Rockies 1-hitter versus Oakland, that one hit may have been caught had Hawpe gone head first, rather than feet first with that lame little slide-catch thing he inevitably tries.

Now, Hawpe’s got a cannon, and we are in no way insinuating that we dislike Hawpe as the Rox RF of the future. We revel in each baserunner that has the guts to test Hawpe’s howitzer as they are usually left dead-to-rights. But here at On The Rox, we look for an easy solution that will keep everyone positive. So, we’re suggesting that Brad Hawpe enroll himself in yoga classes, and diving lessons at the local swim pool. Seriously folks, the guy has about the same flexibility as a Ken doll. Watching him try to scale the wall is painful. Watching him chase flyballs only to slide and have them drop in front of him is equally gut-wrenching. We don’t expect him to be Spiderman–or one step up from that: Ichiro–but we do expect our rightfielder to dive for balls head-first. So, let’s see what we can do about yoga and diving lessons for Brad, that’ll limber him up and take away his fear of laying out.

Until then, we’re starting the Brad Hawpe Dive Watch. Now, as we mentioned, we haven’t seen every Rockies game, so if we’re wrong, we will stand corrected if someone can provide video or photographic evidence of a fabled "Brad Hawpe Head-First Dive." (Evidently, they’re rarer than unicorns.) However, until we’re proven wrong, we will continue to bring you the Brad Hawpe Dive Watch. As of today, Hawpe has played 239 career games without making a head first dive.

BRAD HAWPE DIVE WATCH: 239

You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

Starting Pitching Wins Championships

In the last installment of On The Rox, we took an in depth look at the possible positive effects the humidor is having on the pitching staff at Coors Field. Some out there may think this was a little glass-is-half-empty of us–giving credit to a humidor rather than to the Rox starters. This point is duly noted, so today we’ll look at the other side of the coin. Maybe the latest stats have nothing to do with the humidor, and everything to do with this year’s Rox staff being absolute and utter horses.

Case in point: Last night, Jeff Francis.

Francis hurled a complete game, two-hit shutout facing only two batters over the minimum. 29 up, 27 down. He had control of all his pitches, and hit the glove no matter where Yorvit Torrealba put it. It was a masterful performance, especially the way he handled Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion, but the crazy thing is, it wasn’t the best by a Rockies pitcher this season.

So far this season, the Rox staff has 3 complete game, 2-hit shutouts, one combined 1-hit shutout, and 8 total shutouts. The 8 shutouts tie the team record for most shutouts in a season, and it’s only July!

Josh Fogg arguably has the best performance of the year with his two-hit shutout in Seattle in which he faced the minimum–27 up, 27 down. Although he gave up two hits and a walk, they were all erased on double plays. Last night, Francis was just as dominating, allowing fewer baserunners, giving up two hits, no walks, but didn’t get any double plays. Jason Jennings combined with Jose Mesa and Brian Fuentes on the Rockies first 1-hitter in team history, and also has a 2-hit complete game shutout of his own.

STARTING SOMETHING GOOD

Shutouts are one thing, but how about the consistency? Going into the season, there were question marks about the Rockies staff, and those all been answered…and some! The Rox starting rotation’s combined ERA is 4.23, which is tied for second
with San Francisco for the second best mark in the National League.
Only the Florida Marlins rotation has a better rotation ERA at 4.21. (Yeah, Florida!)(We didn’t believe it either…but who would have believed Colorado would be second at this point in the season?)

SULLY TO THE RESCUE
Leading off the 6th inning last night, Francis was in the midst of a perfect game. He had retired the first 15 batters, and had cut through the heart of the Cardinals line-up twice. Yadier Molina led off the 6th with a little flare into center field. Cory Sullivan, well aware Francis had a perfect game in the balance, came charging in full speed, dove and barely, BARELY came up short. The ball barely hit off Sully’s glove, dropping in for the first hit of the game. Sullivan, still sitting on his knees, slammed the ball into his glove and yelled in frustration, well aware that the perfect game was gone.

The one consolation was the fact that Sully was the one in center field. If it had been anyone else on the team, we would be saying: If Sully was in center field, he would have caught it. Because here at On The Rox, Sully is our boy. If he couldn’t come up with that catch, no one in the National League could. Francis was well aware of this too, and was the first player to great Sully with a smile as he returned to the dugout. After the game, Francis said he was relieved to have the hit drop in front of Sully so he could worry about winning the game, not hurling a perfect one.

If he had come up with it, maybe Francis pitches differently to Pujols with a perfect game still on the line, but that’s just a big…if. Pujols doubled to the left-center gap in his 3rd and final at bat.

WELCOME BACK SULLY

Speaking of Cory Sullivan, we do enjoy the fact that Sully is finally seeing some starts again. Aside from his nearly flawless defense, Sully has found his swing again, and found his way out of Manager Clint Hurdle’s dog house. He’s hitting .352 over the last month, 19 for 54, with 9 runs, 3 2B, 2 3B, and 6 RBI. Not to mention, Sully brings excellent bunting skills and a toughness and intensity matched only by Jamey Carroll and Clint Barmes. Here at On The Rox, all we ask is that you play hard. If you do, you’re officially our boy.

Good pitching, timely hitting, good defense, toughness and intensity will take the Rox to the wire this season. You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

Coors Field Humidor Making a Difference?

Many hitters are feeling a bit deflated at Coors Field these days, and most of them are just starting to figure out why. Rockies’ brass added a humidor this season to keep baseballs from drying out, and although many reporters and fans are slow in buying into its effects, On The Rox takes a closer look today.

Back in early June, I wrote to Tracy Ringolsby, Rockies beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, to get his opinion on whether the humidor is getting inside the heads of the Rockies hitters. I wrote to him near the end of a rough two-week stretch in which the Rockies had difficulty hitting with runners’ in scoring position. Our correspondence was then printed in the Rocky Mountain News on June 8, 2006:

Dan Boniface wants to dry things out.

Q: With the bats being about as dead as a roadside prairie dog in Boulder,
is it time to stop keeping the baseballs in the humidor at Coors Field?
Is the humidor getting into the players’ heads?

A: Dan, if the humidor is getting into their heads, then the Rockies
know those are players who need to be replaced. This team has the
basics to be a good hitting team, not just a power-hitting team like
the Blake Street Bombers. The Bombers were fun to watch, but let’s not
forget they never won more than 83 games in a season so they were not a
challenge for the ’27 Yankees. They were more a remake of the Southside
Hit Men of Bob Lemon and Bill Veeck 30 years ago. This offense showed
what it is capable of on the road and at home in April. Now comes the
real test of which of these players are strong enough to take the
negatives of the last month and rebuild. It is all part of what this
season is about in trying to see which players fit long-term and which
don’t.

Mr. Ringolsby, I agree that this season is a good test to see who belongs long-term on this Rockies team, and who doesn’t. And the ability to play 81 games in Coors Field without buying into its hype is essential for any Rockies player who plans on being in a Rockies uniform for a while. I guess I just find it unbelievable that we are even discussing the notion that hitters are finding the Coors Field confines rather unfriendly. Usually this has been the plight of the pitchers. But here we are.

I will have to research further to figure out the overall team ERA differences this season, but I thought at least we could compare the career stats of two longtime Rockies players, pitcher Jason Jennings and first baseman Todd Helton.

Over the course of Todd Helton’s potentially-Hall-of-Fame career, he has historically hit better at home than on the road. Is it because Helton gets up for his hometown crowd, or is it because of the famed mile-hile air? Or a coincidence? This season his home average is far lower than usual, while his road average is near his norm. While you’ll mainly notice that Helton’s power numbers are slipping over the last few years, this season’s drop in average at home could be due to his illness early this year…or could it be the humidor? Helton has never hit below .353 at home since 2001, and he could get back there this year with a good second half. Here are the numbers:

2006 Home YTD: 12 2B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, .306
2006 Away YTD: 8 2B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .278

2005 Home: 26 2B, 13 HR, 52 RBI, .353
2005 Away: 19 2B, 7 HR, 27 RBI, .287

2004 Home: 23 2B, 21 HR, 60 RBI, .368
2004 Away: 26 2B, 11 HR, 36 RBI, .326

2003 Home: 27 2B, 23 HR, 72 RBI, .391
2003 Away: 22 2B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, .324

2002 Home: 22 2B, 18 HR, 65 RBI .378
2002 Away: 17 2B, 12 HR, 44 RBI, .281

2001 Home: 31 2B, 27 HR, 84 RBI, .384
2001 Away: 23 2B, 22 HR, 62 RBI, .286

Jason Jennings’ numbers are also an interesting case study. His ERA is lower at home than on the road for only the second time in his career (2003 being the other). His home ERA is under 4 for the first time ever, and his road ERA is in the low 4’s this year. His 2001 numbers were excluded because Jennings didn’t make enough starts. Check out the numbers:

2006 Home YTD: 7 HR Allowed, 3.48 ERA
2006 Away YTD: 6 HR Allowed, 4.21 ERA

2005 Home: 5 HR Allowed, 5.15 ERA
2005 Away: 6 HR Allowed, 4.87 ERA

2004 Home: 16 HR Allowed, 6.15 ERA
2004 Away: 11 HR Allowed, 4.86 ERA

2003 Home: 8 HR Allowed, 4.64 ERA
2003 Away: 12 HR Allowed, 5.38 ERA

2002 Home: 18 HR Allowed, 5.65 ERA
2002: Away: 8 HR Allowed, 3.35 ERA

ON THE ROX ANALYSIS
These numbers seem to point to a shift at Coors Field from a hitter’s haven, to a pitcher’s paradise. But pinning this solely on the humidor may be a bit premature. Here are a few other factors to consider:

– Maybe the MLB crackdown on steroids has something to do with the power outage.
– Maybe it’s just a statistical anomaly.
– Maybe the Rockies starting pitchers are just that much better this season.

If you ask Rockies players or management, they’ll tell you the humidor definitely plays a role. Mike DeJean was quoted on MLB.com saying he felt like he could get a better grip and better movement on a ball kept in the humidor, and that the pre-humidor balls were dry, hard and slick. Advantage: Pitchers.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said in a press conference that the humidor "definitely makes a difference in how the park plays," adding that it was leveling the playing field for pitchers and hitters. And with the fences remaining incredibly far out (415 in center field) from the steroid/pre-humidor era, the park is undeniably playing differently.
The bottom line is, playing home games in a pitcher’s friendly park is an advantage for the Rockies in this post-steroids era of Major League Baseball. Baseball is slowly returning to the traditional small-ball style, with a great focus on the little things. Building a team that can hit for average, hit in the clutch, pitch well and play solid defense will only benefit the Rox in the long run as they can play the same style at home and on the road, and don’t have to sit back and wait for the three-run homer.
Look for your Rox of the future to make things happen on the basepaths, rather than living and dying by the longball. Good pitching and good defense will take the Rox to the wire this season. You heard it here at On The Rox, where our glass is always half-full.

Daniel Boniface is a freelance writer in Boulder, Colorado. Contact: dbonif@aol.com. You can subscribe to On The Rox at http://www.newsgator.com, or find it online at: rox.mlblogs.com.

Don’t Fret Just Yet

Get down from that highrise in Denver, don’t get all upset. No need to throw yourself into the streets of LoDo just because the Rox dropped a series to the Butt-Pirates. Sure the Rox dropped another one yesterday, and sure it was a heartbreaker 6-5 late-inning loss. BUT, there are some good things we can take from this loss. Remember, the glass is still half-full.

MADDER THAN A HORNET NEST
Yesterday’s loss was the kind that stings. It stings long and hard. And the Rox have a day off today to think about it and stew and get really really ultra-pissed off. And we hope that happens because Denver’s boys are heading into Arizona to face the Diamondbacks, and as we all know, the Snakes have had the Rox number this year. They swept the Rockies at home right before the All-Star Break, and now it’s time for some payback; some good old-fashioned mad-as-**** revenge. We need some wins Rockies, so get pissed!

TWO-OUT MAGIC
Yesterday’s best sign was that the Rockies put together a little two-out rally. Down 3-1 in the 6th, the Rox put together a nice little rally with a walk and 3 consecutive two-out doubles. It was something that we haven’t seen much of in the last couple weeks, and it was great to see. Right in the middle of the scoring yesterday was 1B Ryan Shealy. As you know, here at On The Rox, Shealy is our boy. We want to see him get his cuts, and he sure helped yesterday…..well, up until the final out, when he struck out with the bases loaded in a tie game, but hey, that’s baseball. He’ll get ’em next time.

ALMOST: BUT THIS AIN’T HORSESHOES
Unfortunately, "Almost" doesn’t count. Yesterday’s almost win was a heartbreaker. It seemed like the Rox would turn the tables in the 9th when they loaded them up with 1 out for Matt Holliday and Shealy on deck. Unfortnately, the mighty Holliday and the mighty Shealy both struck out. (Shades of the Mighty Casey and the Mudville 9.)
I gotta give out the props to the guys who did load ’em up, though. Choo Freeman had a big hit after a long at bat. Carroll drew the walk, and Clint Barmes–did we mention he’s back, folks?–came through with a HUGE hit to load’em up. I was jumping up and down at this point.
Then it looked like we had a tied game when Atkins socked a single up the middle, but 3rd base coach Mike Gallego held Carroll at third!***** it, Gallego! This is the Rox, let’s be the team with some guts, roll the dice. If you’ve got a chance to tie the game in the 9th, roll the f**king dice! Jamey Carroll has wheels, let him try for home in that situation.

Here at On The Rox, our glass is filled with whiskey. And our glass is always half-full. But for playing conservative baseball in the midst of a rough stretch, Mike Gallego has earned himself the first ever On The Rox Shirley Temple award. So Mike, enjoy that drink….ya big wuss. Grow a set next time and roll the dice.

Anyway, Gallego is probably still reeling from seeing Helton and Sullivan both thrown out at the plate this week, and so he probably figured he’d play for the sac fly to get Carroll in, since Holliday was coming up next and is hitting very well with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and Holliday and Shealy both failed to even put the ball in play.
Cest la vie, we’ll try again on Friday. We got Aaron Cook and his 3.59 ERA on the hill, and an offense that’s mad as ****. There are reasons to feel positive about things; after all, the glass here is always half-full!