Tyler Matzek became the third Rockie to make his major league debut over the past week, which is something no team ever wants to be in a position to experience. In the Rockies’ case, half of their team is on the DL and they have been reeling as a result of that. However, if you have to have a bunch of major league debuts all occur within a few days, the Braves are probably a good team to face. No matter which guys seem to be wearing the laundry (or who the hitting coach is), when ballplayers have “Braves” scrawled across their jerseys they struggle to hit pitchers they have never seen before.
After a nearly four-hour-long game last night, this one zipped right along. Matzek’s team gave him some early runs to play with, when they scored three runs off of Julio Teheran in the first inning. Julio actually had a couple of outs before the scoring started, but he then ended up surrendering as many runs as Mike Minor did in the first yesterday. Minor had been staked to a 7-run lead, though, whereas the offense tonight did not get around to getting a baserunner until the fifth inning. In fact, the Braves’ hardest hit ball up to that point was a foul ball Tommy La Stella hit that a fan from Colorado Springs came away with in the third inning.
The Braves spoiled Matzek’s bid for a shutout in the 8th inning, when Regression, Tommy La Stella, and The Defense recorded back-to-back-to-back singles and knocked the rookie out of the box. No Rockies pitcher has ever pitched a shutout in his major league debut, so naturally, Matzek nearly did so against the Braves at Coors Field, one day after they scored 13 runs. Matzek also recorded his first big league hit in the 7th, when Simmons made a good dive to catch the ball but could not throw him out in time. He then came around to score the Rockies’ 7th run, after David Carpenter was brought on to put the threat down and only managed to throw more fuel on the fire.
The Braves squeaked across another run when Upton the Elder picked up an infield single off the pitcher’s glove later in the 8th. That showed the Braves’ luck was finally starting to change (the Rockies had been picking up all sorts of Coors Field bloop singles all game), but it was too little too late, even in that ballpark.
Other notable tidbits:
—Troy Tulowitzki got his first hit of the series tonight. He came in to this series hitting .500 at home, so the Braves holding him hitless for the first two games was no small feat. He ended up 3-for-4 on the night, though, so he made up some for the last two nights.
—The Original Fredi Gonzalez has already stated that both Upton the Younger and Evan Gattis will sit tomorrow, so going home with a winning record on this road trip is looking questionable.
—Evan Gattis has a 12-game hitting streak. When do we start an El Oso for All-Star campaign?
—In the bottom of the sixth inning, Freddie Freeman and Tommy La Stella pulled a combined brain cramp and allowed Josh Rutledge to score a run while they chased Tulowitzki in a run down. When you lose by six runs no single play does you in, but that one looked pretty bad.
—Regression had another two-hit night tonight. The man loves hitting against the Rockies.
This laugher will knock the Braves out of first place if the Nationals hold on to beat the Giants, but, seriously, a team who can’t figure out a way for seven innings to score even one run off of a rookie making his debut at Coors Field probably doesn’t really deserve to be up there, anyway.
I can’t be all negative, though, because this team does have some interesting elements that will make Braves baseball exciting this summer. Tommy La Stella shows no interest in slowing down on the amount of contact he is making (although he did look bad on a strikeout against the first lefty he’s had the chance to start against at the big league level tonight). When Jason Heyward is on, he is a delight to watch, as is The Offense when he gets in the zone. Then, of course, we have the Simmons boys, no relation, who should give us plenty to cheer about on the defensive end. I saw on Twitter earlier this week that Craig Kimbrel’s slider is the only pitch in MLB that has never been homered against (and he’s only given up one extra base hit with it—a double a few years ago), so that’s something to keep an eye on, as well. A few more tweaks here and there (see: bench and LHP reliever), and this team may yet become a lot of fun to watch.
Natspo(s) delenda est.