When mired in a seven-game losing streak, sometimes a team will try anything. The Colorado Rockies sent rookie Eddie Butler to the mound for his major league debut in the opening game of a three-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, and the experiment ended in a crushing 7-2 defeat for the home team.
Called up from Double-A Tulsa, Butler got introduced to major league hitting early in the first inning. Dee Gordon, the LA leadoff hitter, hit Butler’s second pitch down the first base line past Justin Morneau for a triple, scoring later on a ground out by Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead and never trailed.
It has been a disastrous two weeks for the Rockies, who have now lost eight games in a row, and find themselves third in the NL West, 11.5 games behind division-leading San Francisco. They are just 1.5 games from falling into fourth place. After returning from a nine-game road trip in which they went 2-7, the Rockies have now dropped four straight at home, being swept earlier in the week by the cellar-dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks. The eight-game losing streak is the worst for the Rockies since dropping nine in a row in September of 2012.
Injuries have played a part in the Colorado Rox slide. Already with two pitchers, Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood, on the 60-day DL, the Rockies have now lost starter Jordan Lyles, the team leader in strikeouts, to a broken left hand and reliever Boone Logan to inflammation in his left elbow. As for position players, there was some good news in the injury department. Third baseman Nolan Arenado, who fractured his left middle finger and is on the 15-day DL, will not require surgery. His return date to the team is still unknown. LF Carlos Gonzalez was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday due to inflammation in his index finger and he will not return until late June at the earliest.
On the night, Butler gave up six earned runs in his debut in the major leagues and, even though he was crushed by the Dodgers, cynics would probably say it was a comparative success. Colorado pitchers had given up 28 runs in the last two losses in their recent sweep by the Diamondbacks.
Poor pitching performances notwithstanding, the Rockies still have a solid offense which should keep them in games even when the opposing team scores seven runs. On Friday night Colorado pounded out nine hits, with two each by Troy Tulowitzki, Drew Stubbs, Mike McKenry and Charlie Culberson. CF Stubbs had the best night, getting a home run and a double in four at-bats. After leading MLB in four major offensive categories for most of the season, Colorado has now fallen to third in runs scored (300), and second in on-base percentage (.334). They still lead the league in team batting average (.283) and slugging percentage (.467).
Tulowitzki, who was ejected from Friday’s game in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes, continues to lead the team in all of the major offensive categories. He is first in batting average (.359), home runs (16), RBI (41), runs scored (49) and OPS (1.134).
The Rockies and Dodgers play game-two of their three-game series Saturday afternoon at Coors Field. Jhoulys Chacin (0-4, 5.51 ERA) looks for his first win of the year on the mound for the Rockies against Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.50 ERA) for the Dodgers.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Colorado Rockies