09/23/12 9:41 PM ET
Rockies pile on hits, but still falling short
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
In the course of their eight-game losing streak, Colorado has played four games with 11, 12, 13 and 14 hits, averaging better than six runs a game without being able to convert a solid offensive attack into a notch in the win column.
"The young offensive players we had out there handled themselves extremely well," manager Jim Tracy said of a 12-hit, 13-run effort Friday night. "In the early part of the game we took good at-bats, we had situational at-bats that we took advantage of.
"We had 13 hits Thursday afternoon in San Francisco. That's quite an output from a group of very young players on the field."
At times, the club seems one big hit away from claiming victory, but the big hits have been few and far between this season. With 158 home runs and 10 games to play, the Rockies will likely fall short of their 19-year average of 180 homers a season, but well-rounded hitters like Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Nelson, and rookies Josh Rutledge, Jordan Pacheco, DJ LeMahieu and Wilin Rosario have provided the hits to win more than their 58 entering Sunday's play.
"We don't have the type of lineup out there that we can just start hammering the ball over the fence," Tracy said. "That's not how we're constructed right now with our youth."
The Rockies have improved their situational hitting, to the point that a 434-foot home run to the right-field concourse by rookie Andrew Brown Saturday night was overshadowed by a productive out he made an inning later to move the runner over.
"He has good power, there's no question about that," Tracy said of Brown's blast. "But that same guy that hit the ball three quarters of the way up in the bleachers also had a man on second, nobody out and gave himself up, grounded out to second base to move the guy over to third."
Unfortunately, like the Rockies of old, the productive bats in the Colorado dugout have not been able to keep up with a porous pitching staff, that is 25-65 with a 5.93 ERA for starters and a 6.08 ERA for the entire staff at Coors Field. In the course of their eight-game losing streak, the Rockies have seen the other side average eight runs a game.
"There has to come a time where seven runs and 14 hits is enough," Tracy said.
CarGo's left hamstring still 'not very good'
DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez experienced a setback of sorts when he pinch-hit for the Rockies in the eighth inning Sunday.
CarGo was on the bench with a tight left hamstring for the third game in a row and the fifth of the Rockies' last six games. For the second consecutive game, he entered in the late innings to pinch-hit, striking out in the ninth on Saturday and grounding into a fielder's choice in the eighth inning Sunday.
"It's not very good," CarGo said of his left leg after beating out the double play, but noticeably favoring the ailing leg. "I thought I was getting better, but you don't know until you run. I tried to go full speed to avoid another double play, but same thing."
The Rockies have been hopeful that by giving CarGo time to nurse the injury, he could return to the field before the season ends and end 2012 on a positive note. The down side is starting to look like it's not worth the risk of finishing the season on the field, and the Rockies may well decide to shut him down rather than risk further injury.
"I haven't talked to [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] yet," manager Jim Tracy said after removing CarGo for a pinch-runner in the eighth. "I don't know where we're going to be as we continue to move forward, because he didn't go down the line very well at all. You can tell he was favoring that thing pretty bad, and your concern was that when he hit the ball, knowing that they're going to try to turn the double play, that little extra effort that you give when it's already somewhat tender -- I think we dodged a bullet there from fully pulling it."
As his beating out the double play demonstrated, it's hard for a player like CarGo to throttle back and give less effort in the heat of the moment.
"I don't feel worse -- I feel the same," CarGo said. "The same is not good enough to play. Especially in my position. I have to play in the outfield and run all over the place. I don't feel I can make plays in the outfield like I normally do."
Rosario's rookie season setting Rockies records
DENVER -- As the Rockies have entered the final days of the season with an eight-game losing streak and a skid during which they've lost 15 of 17, rookie catcher Wilin Rosario has offered a beacon of hope, emerging as a viable Rookie of the Year candidate while passing stars like Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki in the Rockies' record book.
Over his past 11 games, Rosario has raised his batting average 20 points to .269, putting together seven multi-hit games including his last three straight games with three hits a night.
"I feel very comfortable right now with what I'm doing," Rosario said after a 3-for-4 Saturday night. "I feel really [selective]. I don't want to swing at every pitch. I try to get my pitch, and to hit on both sides of the field. I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now."
He had reason to enjoy his 26th homer run of the season as it sailed into the left-field seats Saturday night, giving the Rockies the lead and Rosario the all-time Rockies rookie record, surpassing Helton's 1998 mark of 25 homers. Tulowitzki was second on the list with 24, but Rosario passed him four days earlier.
"I feel like I can be on the list with those guys," Rosario said. "When you put Helton and Tulo [on the list], you need to put my name [on] too. It's impressive. The emotion I have right now is something crazy -- I can't explain."
The late surge, hitting .304 in August and .324 in September, has launched Rosario into legitimate consideration for the National League Rookie of the Year honors. He has the fourth most homers by a Major League rookie catcher ever and the most since Mike Piazza set the bar with 35 in 1993. He leads all National League rookies in homers, RBIs (68), and slugging percentage (.532), and among Major League rookies he trails only the Angels' Mike Trout, who has 28 home runs with an additional 159 at bats entering play Sunday.
"I don't think about [winning the Rookie of the Year]," Rosario said. "I have a lot of good players in front of me. I only want to play and enjoy [the game]. If I get the Rookie of the Year this year, I'm going to be pretty happy. If it happens, that's good. If it doesn't, that's good too."
Rosario hasn't quite created the buzz that Helton and Tulo sparked in their inaugural campaigns in Colorado, despite having numbers to claim their company and to match any catcher to ever suit up in purple pinstripes. His 26 home runs as a catcher are a Rockies record for a catcher, having breezed past Charles Johnson's 20 (2003) on Aug. 27.
Rosario's struggles have come on defense, where he's made 13 errors and had 20 passed balls. The Rockies previous franchise record for passed balls for one catcher in a season was 12, and Rosario has more this season than 28 Major League teams, bested only by the Mets, who have 29 passed balls while dealing with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's hard-to-handle stuff.
On the other hand, his catcher's ERA is a half run lower than the Rockies' other backstops, and he has a 33 percent caught stealing record, having thrown out 23, the most by a National League rookie since the Dodgers' Russell Martin caught 25 in 2006.
"I feel pretty happy," Rosario said. "Not because I broke the record of both those very good players. It's because the time and opportunity that the team gave me. I've made a lot of mistakes, and they keep pushing me to get better. They've stayed with me. I feel pretty happy about it."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.