What You Need To Know: George Burns was right. Coors Field is a hideous beast goddess. At least he would have been if he were talking about it and not Hollywood. The Rockies clubbed the Cubs in the opener of a split doubleheader, getting the Coors Special of a ton of bloops and flares that land in the wide open space between outfielders. Oh sure, they hit a couple balls hard too, but most of the damage was done by contact that was more suggestion than authoritative. But that happens sometimes when the game takes place in a Wal-Mart.
The Cubs had their chances against Antonio Senzatela, especially right after the Rockies had their big inning in the bottom of the 3rd. They had the bases loaded with no outs, but Almora, Schwarber, and Bryant couldn’t come up with anything other than an RBI groundout.
The tax of the third inning was too much for Jake Arrieta, who couldn’t get out of the fourth after giving up two more runs. If you were looking for confidence-inspiration, you’ll have to move a long, cowboy.
Next Level: Usually I don’t like to get into chaos theory or butterfly effects, even though I love talking about the original Jurassic Park. This is one of those games where you can’t help it. With one out in that fateful 3rd, and the score still tied at 1, Nolan Arenado grounded to Javier Baez with LeMahieu on second. Wrongly, LeMahieu broke for third. I don’t think Javy Baez was wrong to try and go after him with a throw to third, because he was dead to rights. And honestly, I don’t think it was that bad of a throw. But La Stella seemed more concerned with the onrushing LeMahieu than he was with the ball, and his reach was certainly in the neighborhood of “alligator-like.” He catches that, Arrieta has two outs with only a runner on first.
Ok, the next two hits from Gonzalez and Reynolds were nothing, a seeing-eye grounder and a flare. Maybe they still happen, maybe they still don’t. But neither would have scored a run, or at least both wouldn’t have. Maybe Arrieta falls apart in the same way, maybe he doesn’t. We can safely say that two outs with a runner on first is a hell of a lot safe than on the corners with one out, though.
-The big blow, and also can be attributed to playing in Little Big Horn, was Ryan Hanigan’s single that plated three that Schwarber couldn’t quite get to. Almora had Hanigan shaded to right field, and he had a mile to cover. It looked like he might have had a chance to get there, but pulled up with Schwarber calling it. That shouldn’t happen, as Almora’s the captain out there. Again, I don’t know that he gets there but I’d rather take my chances with him. If he does, there’s your inning at a still manageable 3-1. Any other ballpark we’re not even discussing this.
-If the Cubs were going to make a contest of it, the chance disappeared in the next half inning. Almora didn’t make his day any better by swinging at a pitch that might have hit him in the throat to pop out with the bases loaded, and Senzatella was able to make pitches to Schwarber and Bryant.
-Whatever bad luck Arrieta had in the third he matched with poor pitches in the 4th. LeMahieu and Reynolds hit balls hard after he walked Blackmon. This was the kind of John Lackey outing we’ve become accustomed to, where one thing goes wrong and it all goes wrong. There was just less swearing, yelling, and scowling. Arrieta got seven whiffs all day, which isn’t encouraging. He walked three in less than four innings. This is where I start tugging at my collar a bit.
Good thing there’s another game tonight, huh?
Top WPA Play: Schwarber’s double to lead off the 3rd, before everything went balls-up (+0.59)
Bottom WPA Play: Hanigan’s bases-clearing single mentioned above. Coors Field, where a bases-clearing single is possible. What a world. (-0.146)
Lead photo courtesy Ron Chenoy—USA Today Sports