July 4, 2010
The fireworks started early at Coors Field on Saturday night.
The Giants won a slug fest 11-8 over the Rockies in a game no one would have expected 19 runs to be scored in. The Rockies had scored seven runs to erase another poor start from ace Ubaldo Jimenez, putting him in line for his 15th win.
With the momentum in the Rockies favor and three lefties due up for the Giants in the top of the 7th, it seemed like the Rockies were in a good position to take their third straight game from San Francisco. Joe Beimel, who has thrown only two pitches since Tuesday seemed like he would take the mound to get the lefties and leave it up to Betancourt and Street to close the game out.
Instead, Jim Tracy chose to go to Manny Corpas in the 7th. Corpas, fresh off his June in which he had a 9.45 ERA, did what he has done for the past three weeks. Corpas proceeded to give up a triple and two singles before being removed from the game in favor of Beimel, who should have started the inning.
Corpas has struggled over the past three weeks. His slider has been flat. When Corpas does not have his slider he is in big trouble. That has been the case for a while now for the Panamanian. It is clear that his confidence is shaken and he is afraid to attack the zone with his fastball, leaving his flat slider over the plate to be crushed.
To Corpas' credit, his struggles are not entirely his fault. Tracy continues to wear out his arm. He leads the club with 39 appearances. That is nearly half of the Rockies 81 games so far. While that may not seem like a ton of games, keep in mind that Corpas did not start the season as a one inning guy. For the first quarter of the year, the right hander was the long man in the bullpen. Without recording an out on Saturday, Corpas still has logged 44 innings.
The logic does not seem to makes sense for Tracy. He obviously wanted to save Beimel for Aubrey Huff, but the only problem with that is if Huff came up in the inning (which he did), the Rockies would already be in trouble and Beimel would be pitching without a lead.
It is clear that Corpas needs a few days off. Not only to rest his arm, but also to rest his bruised psyche. It is difficult for any pitcher to take the mound for as long as Corpas has and continue to struggle without it affecting the ego.
While Tracy's decision made an impact on this game, another glaring issue came to the forefront. It would have been easy for the Rockies to chalk up Jimenez's recent struggles to two bad games if the righty would have been dominant once again. However, Jimenez struggled for the third straight start.
The flame-throwing Dominican was not himself from the get-go. While he got out of the first two innings with less than 20 pitches, he was helped by two great plays by Ian Stewart and Melvin Mora. Then in the 3rd inning Jimenez handed the Giants seven runs. He threw 38 pitches in the frame. The scoring was capped off by a grand slam off the bat of Travis Ishikawa after two Jimenez walks.
Jimenez, instead of throwing his sinking fastball and mixing in his other pitches, was pitching backwards for most of the game. He was throwing more breaking balls and changeups than fastballs, and his fastballs were only registering 95-96 MPH consistently. The grand slam to Ishikawa came on an 88 MPH changeup. That is not exactly the pitch of choice to a guy who has started four games all season long.
The Rockies go for the series victory on Sunday. Jason Hammel takes the hill against Matt Cain. Winning a four game series against the Giants would be as big as it gets in July.