Watching Cliff Lee pitch is one of those things as an opposing fan that drives you crazy. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff by any stretch of the imagination, the movement on his pitches isn't great, and he throws very hittable strikes. All those factors seem like they should add up to easy on base opportunities for a good hitting team.
But today, he completely confounded the Rockies batsmen, and made Citizens Bank Park look like a pitcher's haven instead of the bread box it is.
The Rockies were not without their chances early.
They had runners in scoring position in the first and second inning, but came up short on both occasions. A blatant miscall ended the second inning when Yorvit Torrealba was called out at third after trying to tag up on a fly ball to right. Jason Werth threw an amazing ball to record the double play on the outfield assist, but the obvious miscall is yet another example of why instant replay should be given a serious look in the off season.
This seemed to take the wind completely out of the Rockies hitters, who seemed completely over matched the rest of the game.
Despite the lackluster offense, things were shaping up to be a classic pitcher's duel through four innings, with Ubaldo Jiminez matching Cliff Lee pitch for pitch. But, as has been the case for this team all year, the Rockies once again put themselves in a position where they were forced to play from behind.
Jiminez got blown up for four runs in the fifth and sixth inning, and was responsible for one more run surrendered by Biemel after he was called on for relief, leaving the Rockies in a 5-0 hole.
This should be a concern for the Rockies as they prepare for game two tomorrow afternoon. They cannot expect to be able to come back from behind like they did during the regular season. Playoff baseball is a completely different beast. A two run deficit in the post-season might as well be 10 runs.
I was definitely surprised by the "deer in the headlights" performance by the Rockies, especially in light of the recent playoff experience in '07 for most of the players on this team. But fans should not let this get them down.
If there is one thing that this team has demonstrated this season, it's their toughness and resiliency in the face of adversity. If they can settle their bats down, start swinging at the pitches they should be swinging at, taking the pitches they should be taking, this team will be able to put enough runs on the board to be competitive.
This game would have had a completely different complexion if they were able to even score one of those base runners in the first two innings, and I can almost guarantee Jiminez could have held off the Phillies surge.
Aaron Cook will take the mound tomorrow afternoon, and if the Rockies bats can get him a lead early, he will use his sinker and the strong defense behind him to get the win. I might be wrong, but I'm probably not.