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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Helton and Company

Quick report on my first day of scoring for of the 2006 season. It was a 6:35 game with the Rockies taking on the Diamondbacks.

Although I arrived a bit late due to traffic and had some trouble with the printer (new cartridge etc.) I had everything setup and ready to go by 6:15 just as the clouds parted which I took as a good omen.

Orlando Hernandez started for the D'Backs against Aaron Cook for the Rockies. Hernandez threw his usual collection of junk from various arm angles and varied his speed from 62 to 89 mph in his 5 innings of work. He struck out 8 and was particularly tough on young free swingers Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe. Todd Helton, however, had little trouble waiting on his pitches and hit two doubles in the first and in the third to drive in the Rockies first run.

Cook on the other hand had a rough start and was quickly down 2-0. His control wasn't sharp in the first inning but he righted the ship and pitched 7 pretty strong innings giving up three runs and walking just one batter. His sinker was working and he was able to record 16 ground ball outs.

What was most disappointing was that in the 5th inning with the game tied Cook singled to lead off the inning bringing up Cory Sullivan. Manager Clint Hurdle elected to bunt and Sullivan laid down the sacrifice. Clint Barmes followed with a strikeout and of course Helton was then intentionally walked. Holliday struck out for the third consecutive time against Hernandez to end the inning. In the 7th Choo Freeman led off with a single pinch hitting for Cook and Hurdle, who apparently wasn't watching in the 5th, again had Sullivan sacrifice. This time Barmes popped up in foul territory, Helton was walked, and Holliday grounded meakly into a force out to end the inning.

What's most frustrating is that in both instances the sequence of events that actually transpired were the most probable and yet Hurdle apparently didn't see it. Holliday wasn't evne close to hitting Hernandez and so immediately when Sullivan squared it was as if the rest of the inning had been played out. Some of you know I'm not a big Clint Barmes fan and have a feeling he may lose his job to Luis Gonzalez or Jamie Carroll before the season is out. Barmes is so easily jammed that it's surprising he ever gets a pitch out away from him.

It will be an excruciatingly long year if Helton is intentionally walked 70 times and Holliday doesn't stop swinging at everything in sight. And if Hurdle doesn't have any confidence in Sullivan he shouldn't hit him leadoff. With his speed you would think he'd be able to beat out some double play balls.

To add insult to injury Sullivan walked with one out in the 9th and the score 4-2 D'Backs. Barmes, after fouling off several pitches at 1-1 swung through fastball and Sullivan (with Helton on deck) was promptly picked off first by catcher Johnny Estrada to end the game. Oh well, Helton probably would have been walked anyway.

All in all though, a good first day and as always it's great to be at the ballpark.

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