BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
When Eric Young Jr. had the Rockies’ first hit of the game in the first inning last night, the Rockies thought this was the night they would get something going on offense.
It turned out that was the only hit of the game for them.
The Rockies continue their struggles on offense after they took a 3-0 shutout loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Hitting has been why the Rockies are struggling this month. They are hitting .230 in May after batting .282 in April. They averaged 3.5 runs on the six-game homestand, and they batted .239 during the week.
During the Rockies’ series against the Yankees, they managed to score five runs and get sixteen hits.
They were 0-for-18 for runners in scoring position in the losses to the Rays.
It was hard to believe it was going to get better for the Rockies last night with Shelby Miller on the mound for the Cardinals. Prior to his last night’s start, the Cardinals rookie has won four games with a 1.96 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, and he threw 38 strikeouts.
Miller was highly touted when the season started, and it was easy to see why everyone was high on him from watching him last night.
The rookie stymied the Rockies by throwing 13 strikeouts and retiring 27 in a row to finish the game. It was good enough for him to throw a one-hitter and a complete game.
It is a good thing Young Jr. had that leadoff hit or else Miller would have achieved a no-hitter.
It helped the Rockies made Miller’s job easy. Most of the hitters were hacking at the plate rather than making him work by fouling off pitches and not discerning if the pitch was going to be out of the strike zone. It was clear most of them did not have good eye at the plate.
That’s been the problem with the Rockies lately. There are too many bad at-bats when they are at the plate.
It seems like most of the hitters want to swing for the fences rather than finding a way to get a base hit.
There are hitters who are tentative at the plate. Last night, Carlos Gonzalez struck out looking couple of times and Troy Tulowitzki did the same thing as he struck out three times.
There’s nothing worse than not swinging the bat.
It is clear guys are doing too much to snap out of their funk. They are thinking too much.
This is where the guys must work with Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette. They need to figure out a plan to take better at-bats. They have to stop focusing on hitting home runs.
Home runs come once guys are on base with base hits.
It’s something these guys have to work on during this road trip.
There are circumstances to why the Rockies are scuffling at the plate.
As good as Nolan Arenado, Wilin Rosario, Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge are, they are going to go through growing pains as young hitters. That’s the case with them right now. Pitchers figure out how to attack their weaknesses at the plate. It’s up to the hitters to figure it out and make the adjustments.
This is why no one should expect Rosario, Arenado, Pacheco and Rutledge to be stars this soon. They are going to go through ups and downs as young players. Basically, this is more of a developmental year for them. They are better off doing well at their own pace.
Another problem is Tulowitzki is playing through pain. He is having a hard time swinging the bat and making contact out there. His legs have been hurting Sunday, and it hasn’t gotten better despite him taking several games off.
It’s stunning he even played in Thursday’s game against the Yankees at Coors Field. Credit him for gutting it out, but if his injuries affect him to the point he can’t produce, he has to go on the disabled list.
It will be interesting how he goes about it the next few games.
An injured Tulowitzki makes the Rockies offense worse. When he is healthy, he is a dynamic hitter. He can hit the ball in the park and drive in runs. It’s hard to do that when he is injured.
The cold weather hasn’t helped the Rockies, either. They have had awful weather when they are at home in this early season. It’s hard for hitters to get into a groove when it’s raining and cold.
It’s baseball, though. Every team goes through tough circumstances and funks during the course of a long season. Good teams figure out a way to snap out of it as soon as possible, and that’s on the Rockies to find a way.
There’s never a good time to go on a funk. Every game is meaningful when everything adds up in the standings. One bad month can cause a team to go on a tailspin that they may not recover.
It’s frustrating for the Rockies right now since they are getting good pitching out of their starters and relievers. The last thing they need is wasting a good performance out of their starters.
The schedule does not get easy with the Giants and Diamondbacks coming to Coors Field in the next homestand, which starts next week.
If the hitting does not get it together, the Rockies could be on a swoon that they may not recover.
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