In the Rockpile: Wild game should bring changes

Rafael Betancourt isn't pleased after giving up a game-tying home run in the eighth inning to the Brewers Friday night. (AP/Morry Gash)

Last night, the Colorado Rockies made the trip to Miller Park to play the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that was chock full of sports news material. There were home runs, ejections, good pitching, bad pitching, etc. Even Troy Tulowitzki earned an ejection — the second of his career — for arguing a LaTroy Hawkins strike with home plate umpire Rod Drake. Prior to Tulowitzki getting tossed, Milwaukee starter Zack Greinke was ejected for deliberately throwing behind Tulo in retaliation for Jason Hammel hitting the Brewers’ Ryan Braun with a pitch in the fifth inning. The Rockies received home-run support from Jason Giambi (fourth in eight at-bats) and Hammel tried to help his cause with a two-run bomb, the first Rockies pitcher to do so since Jason Jennings in 2004.

The run support was not enough once the Rockies bullpen got involved in giving up entirely too many hits and home runs.  This is where the changes I’m calling for need to happen. I’ve been banging on this topic the whole season: the bullpen. Rockies manager Jim Tracy seems determined to throw in the worst mixture of pitching possible. There shouldn’t be any question as to what needs to happen here, especially after the Rockies traded away relief pitcher Franklin Morales to the Red Sox after Thursday’s game in Philadelphia: Felipe Paulino has got to go!

Granted, Paulino was set up for failure after being sent into the 14th inning to try and clean up a sloppy mess created by Rafael Betancourt giving up a home run to Casey McGehee. Betancourt struck out two but McGehee sent Betancourt to the dugout.  Matt Belisle and Matt Lindstrom maintained the game well, until the 13th inning. Enter Huston Street, who laid the egg to Yuniesky Betancourt, whose homer tied the game at 5-5. Like I said, Paulino was set up for failure from the start because he cannot help himself much. Paulino, to me, is the kid in school that just can’t help himself. He is always getting in his own way despite trying to not screw it up. Trying not to screw up is the easiest way to commit suicide on the mound, which is what happened when big Prince Fielder, most likely, helped (finally) send Paulino down to triple-A — or out of town altogether — by hitting the walk-off, two-run homer to end the game in 14 innings.

I’m confident that Tracy knows his hands are tied in making bullpen changes. It started with the shake-up this week of sending Morales to Boston, and it should culminate (thus far) in Paulino being sent away for pesos on the dollar to whoever wants a relief pitcher that is 0-4 on the season because he can’t pitch his way out of a paper bag. The Rockies, in all reality, may just cut him altogether. Belisle and Lindstrom are my go-to guys; they are the rocks in the bullpen and deserve some thanks for staying consistent. Street, on the other hand, is safe for now, but I really wish Tracy would experiment with sending in Lindstrom for save situations. His ball is fast, hard and occasionally downright filthy. Lindstrom has the “stuff” that is closer material, whereas Street lacks the ability to overpower and outgun batters. Street is more finesse than brutish, and that difference is what separates him from the Brian Wilson’s and Mariano Rivera’s of the league.


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