When no major news is actually good news, you know you are either defusing a bomb or rooting for the Rockies.
Well, no major news isn’t entirely true.
There is the great news that the Rockies didn’t roll over and give Strasburg his seventh straight win. Plus the record-setting temperature of 100° was pretty major. Scutaro getting hit by a Strasburg fast ball to the nugget and walking away was pretty major, even though the walk was to the dugout as a precaution.
Oh, and the Rockies actually winning a game thanks to excellent pitching and handing Strasburg only his second loss of the season? Well, that is pretty major news after all.
Scutaro, post game, was said to be “fine”.
The 4-2 win, although not officially, should be pinned to Jeff Francis’ excellent pitching. He actually made it through the fifth inning, the key to “being on the hook”, in under 75 pitches. Unfortunately for Francis, the Rockies only had one run on the board, compared to the Nationals two, so he wasn’t in line for the win.
But Francis did show that he can hang with the best pitcher in baseball, Strasburg and his quiver of sick pitches, and that he still has some movement of his own. His final line (5 ip, 5 hits, 2 runs and 5 strikeouts) was extremely respectable for a Rockie starter. He dropped his ERA from 8.56 to 7.23 in the process.
The turning point for the game was in the bottom of the sixth. Dex pulled a Strasburg changeup down the right field line and let his long legs lead him to third.
Next up was Marco Scutaro, only one day removed from the base-running, rally killing play in Arlington. He was dropped by a 95 mph fastball that, thankfully, met with his helmet, but he was mighty shaken up and removed from the game.
In a very questionable move, Jim Tracy decided to put Chris Nelson in to pinch “run”. Nelson, who tweaked his ankle against the Rangers, showed he wasn’t up for the base-running task as he hobbled to second on a RBI single from CarGo. He was moved over on another single by Michael Cuddyer, and had he been out there without a bum leg, he might have made it to third on the CarGo hit or home on the Cuddy hit.
Thankfully it didn’t matter because Helton came through in the clutch and hit a sacrifice to center, scoring Nellie the Gimp.
Strasburg, obviously angry at himself, got out of the two on, one out jam by getting Wilin Rosario to strike out and Johnny Herrera to ground out.
But the damage was done, Strasburg didn’t come back for the seventh, and the Rockies bullpen again proved why they aren’t the red-headed stepchild of the pitching staff. Roenicke, Belisle and Betancourt combined for four scoreless and the Rox gave high-fives all around.