06/17/09 1:32 AM ET
Rockies' win streak ends at 11
De La Rosa hit hard; missed popup proves costly
By Nick Zaccardi / Special to MLB.com
The visiting Rays cracked five home runs among a franchise-record 12 extra-base hits on their way to a 12-4 victory at Coors Field on Tuesday night.
They cut short the Rockies' string of victories one shy of a new club record. Colorado is left tied with Boston for the longest defunct winning streak of the season. Tampa Bay is the new owner of the longest active winning streak in the Majors with six straight.
Colorado (31-33) is taking a new attitude.
"We got beat good tonight," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "If you're going to have a streak end, I think it's better that [your players] go home tonight and start over tomorrow. Nobody has to sit and wonder about this crucial play or that crucial play at the end of the game. To their credit, they hit the ball tonight up and down throughout their order."
Starter Jorge De La Rosa (2-7) offered his shortest outing since July 31 of last season. The left-hander was torched for seven runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. He gave up home runs to Evan Longoria and Gabe Kapler before being pulled for Josh Fogg with the Rays up, 7-1, in the third.
"Everything was in the middle of the plate," a soft-spoken De La Rosa said. "I paid for it."
Starting pitching had been the crux of the winning streak. Rockies starters had gone 10-0 with a 2.50 ERA during the 11 games.
On Tuesday, De La Rosa's back-breaker was a four-run second inning that could have been averted if a simple foul popup had been snared. The Rays led off with a pair of singles, bringing Kapler to the plate with men on first and second.
Kapler softly popped a 2-2 pitch a few strides beyond third base. Neither shortstop Troy Tulowitzki nor third baseman Ian Stewart made a play on the ball due to a miscommunication.
Tulowitzki ended up near third base, and Stewart stopped in foul ground a few feet from the ball a second before it dropped to the grass. Both looked dumbfounded.
"I think Troy hollered at Ian, 'I got third,'" Tracy said. "I think when Ian heard the first part of it, that's when he kind of backed off the ball and it fell and hit the ground."
Tulowitzki said he wasn't yelling at Ian, but at De La Rosa instead, telling the pitcher he would cover third base.
"I can't get to that ball," Tulowitzki said. "I don't know if there was too much communication even. I wasn't talking to [Stewart] at all. I was talking to the pitcher. I'm not sure exactly what happened."
Kapler (3-for-4, four RBIs, two runs) laced the next pitch into the left-center-field gap for a two-run triple. The next batter, Dioner Navarro, slapped a ball through a drawn-in infield to plate Kapler. B.J. Upton completed the scoring with an RBI double.
Tracy believed that missed popup changed the complexion of the game.
"If we catch that ball, then obviously without the runner at third we don't have to play the shorter depth on the infield," Tracy said. "I really believe the ball that Dioner Navarro hit has a real good chance -- if we catch that popup -- of being a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play and they have a zero instead of a four. They got the four, and they kept hitting."
Kapler, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Upton would tack on home runs. Pena notched his America League-leading 21st homer of the season. The Rays recorded 17 hits to cushion Jeff Niemann (6-4) to a five-inning victory.
After the game, Tracy went around the locker room with the pat-on-the-back message to "win the rest of the homestand." Five games remain.
That's an accomplishable goal in the minds of the players, who have gained more confidence thanks to the streak.
"We know that we're a good team and can compete," Tulowitzki said. "Now, the bar is set higher than it was before."
Nick Zaccardi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.