Club goes hitless in 21-batter span vs. Padres starter Shields
By Owen Perkins
Special to MLB.com |
DENVER -- The Rockies proved both ends of an old baseball adage over the weekend. In a three-game set with the Padres, they blistered baseball to the tune of 27 hits and 17 runs in the first two games, then shut down and found only four hits on a lazy Sunday, when their offensive output in the 10-4 loss was far more lethargic than their run tally would indicate.
"Hitting is timing," Hall-of-Famer Warren Spahn said. "Pitching is upsetting timing."
San Diego's James Shields disrupted every vestige of timing lingering from the Rockies' first two games, lulling Colorado's lumber to sleep and staving off the sweep. Shields struck out eight, and the bullpen combined for six more in the final 2 1/3 innings.
"He threw offspeed, and he got the lineup out of rhythm," Rockies catcher Dustin Garneau said of Shields and the three relievers that followed him. "They got some guys in the 'pen, and with their starters, if you don't get to them early, they're going to make you pay. That's what they did today."
Colorado managed just two hits off Shields -- a leadoff homer in the first frame, and a one-out double in the seventh. Shields threw two wild pitches after the double to allow his second run in, and reliever Bud Norris threw a wild pitch of his own later in the inning, setting up a two-run single to account for the last of Shields' runs.
"He had real good fastball command," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Shields. "He had a good breaking ball today. I know his changeup is always a weapon for him, and it was today. He used the breaking ball very well today.
"We've had some decent games against him. We've swung the bats pretty well [against Shields], but not today."
The conventional wisdom has been that groundball pitchers hold the key to success at Coors Field, but some of the most effective pitchers to toe the rubber against the Rockies have made the most of the changeup to upset the rhythm of the hard-swinging Rockies.
"He had a good changeup today, especially when the sun went down a little bit," Garneau noted of Shields.
The Rockies trailed from the first, when a leadoff walk and the first of four home runs established a lead the Padres never relinquished. While Colorado went hitless for a 21-batter span in the first seven innings, the Padres were scoring in each of the first six frames.
"You continue to fight back," left fielder Corey Dickerson said of the Rockies futility at the plate. "We gotta do good at trying to score some runs also."
Colorado will strive to get back in synch as the Pirates come to town Monday with a chance to clinch a playoff berth while in town.
"We'll get after them like we have been," Weiss said. "Today wasn't pretty, but we've been playing well. This'll be good for us. A team coming in with a lot on the line. We'll certainly match their intensity."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.