Injuries strike as Rockies close rough series in desert
Herrera homers but offense again stifled by D-backs pitching
PHOENIX -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss is hoping the Rockies shock themselves out of their current nightmare.
Sunday afternoon's 6-1 loss to the National League West-leading D-backs at Chase Field was a horror show of injuries, weak hitting and iffy pitching -- a combination that has resulted in 17 losses in the past 24 games.
In the second inning, veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt (0-4) was helped off the field after suffering a left hamstring strain. In the ninth inning, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez aggravated a right middle finger injury that occurred three innings prior. This, of course, is happening to a team that is still without leadoff man Dexter Fowler (right hand) and cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki (broken rib), who are set to begin rehab assignments Monday.
But the Rockies (42-47) have to go with the players they have, and it would help of those players hit. In being swept in three games by the D-backs (47-41), the Rockies managed two runs and 12 hits. They were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but keep in mind they didn't put a runner as far as second in Friday night's 5-0 loss and were 0-for-1 Sunday.
The three-game set at San Diego starting Monday might be a chance, since the Padres have lost nine straight. But even then, Weiss is calling for better play.
"We've got to figure it out," Weiss said. "We're banged up but a lot of teams are. We've got to find a way to win games.
"I feel confident that we'll show up tomorrow in San Diego and win the game. That's how I feel, but we've got to go out and do it."
The D-backs were clearly better than the Rockies over the weekend, but D-backs manager Kirk Gibson knows it can change in a hurry.
"Things didn't come easy," Gibson said. "If we're being honest, look at all three games and we hit some balls that fell in. They hit some balls hard right to us. That's the way it goes sometimes. We got some breaks. We've been where they've been, they'll bounce back. We can't let down now."
After Oswalt was injured covering the plate on a wild pitch in the second inning, the D-backs took advantage by scoring three third-inning runs off Edgmer Escalona. That was way too much for a struggling Rockies offense, especially against D-backs All-Star Patrick Corbin (10-1).
Corbin went eight innings, gave up three hits, and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. The other time he did it, by the way, was May 20 against the Rockies at Coors Field. The only mark against him was Jonathan Herrera's first homer of the year, in the eighth inning. Even that wasn't easy.
"You can try to do too much against him because all three pitches are really good -- his fastball, his slider and his changeup," Herrera said. "And it makes him difficult because he's got the same delivery for all three pitches."
The Rockies expected Corbin to throw early strikes, but actually hitting them is another matter. Corbin and veteran catcher Miguel Montero seemed to know exactly what would work against them, and that's a key reason Corbin is 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA in three starts against Colorado this season.
"They like to swing early, but he makes quality pitches every time, so he gets them out early in the at-bat," Montero said.
The fact Corbin is in the strike zone is predictable, but otherwise he keeps the Rockies guessing.
"They'll try to jump on a fastball early, so I just had to mix it up," Corbin said.
Corbin has a 2.40 ERA in 18 starts this year. He's done this to many clubs. But the Rockies also struggled against Tyler Skaggs, who has been up and down between Triple-A and the Majors, and Wade Miley, who is 5-7 with a 4.06 ERA.
"You've got to put together better at-bats, I don't care who's pitching," Weiss said. "You can give credit to the opposing pitcher so much."
Bad baseball and bad luck are running concurrently for the Rockies.
Oswalt said he believes he had his best stuff in four starts since debuting on June 20. "Good velocity, and the breaking ball felt great today," he said.
But with Eric Chavez at third and two out in the second, he bounced a breaking ball in front of the plate. The ball bounced off catcher Wilin Rosario and toward the left side. Oswalt said he slipped slightly in the dirt in front of the plate, which the Chase Field grounds crew dampens with water to keep it from getting hard and dry in the desert. Oswalt said he heard the hamstring pop.
"I'd hate to feel what it would have felt like if it had pulled off the bone," said Oswalt, who will go to the 15-day disabled list and likely will be replaced by a Minor League callup.
Gonzalez felt pain in the finger striking out on a nasty slider from Corbin in the sixth inning. After fouling off a pitch from Josh Collmenter in the ninth, Gonzalez had to leave.
"They totally played better than us," Gonzalez said. "They dominated pitching and put a lot of runs on the board, too. It's fun to play that way. The way we've been playing, we didn't have any chance the whole series.
"The good thing, 'Tulo' is going on a rehab assignment, and with Dexter. That's huge for us. But like we said when 'Tulo' got hurt, we need to continue to play good baseball and stay as close as we can and get to the second half in a good position. We've fallen back. We need to step forward."