6/1/2014 2:21 P.M. ET
Brothers looking for right balance on mound
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Rex Brothers is searching for the right combination of intensity and tranquility when he enters the game.
Brothers' walk to Jason Kipnis to open the eighth inning Saturday afternoon set up the Indians for the winning run in their 7-6 victory over the Rockies. It's part of a pattern that has seen Brothers give up a .385 on-base percentage to the first batter he faces.
Last season, part of it spent as the Rockies' closer, Brothers was 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 19 saves in 72 appearances, and he had 76 strikeouts to 36 walks in 67 1/3 innings. This year, the ERA is 3.70, and he has 21 strikeouts and 15 walks in 24 1/3 innings. Putting himself in a bad spot at the start of innings has been a major reason for his struggles.
"It's a fine line, going in there and not being high enough or not being pulled back enough to be able to do my job," Brothers said. "I've talked to several older guys about how they've done it throughout the years. What is too much and what is not enough? It's just finding that line and doing it on a daily basis.
"Any time you let leadoff guys on at a high rate, it's hard to have way too much success."
Manager Walt Weiss said pitching coach Jim Wright and assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin have worked with Brothers' mechanics, and there aren't major flaws in that area.
"Sometimes it just takes getting on a roll, having a good outing, having two good outings and the confidence soars, and things come easier for you," Weiss said.
Brothers has given up runs in two of his last three outings. Before this stretch, he had thrown nine straight scoreless outings, but had to pitch through seven hits and five walks in nine innings to do it.
CarGo battling through nagging injuries
CLEVELAND -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss expressed admiration for how left fielder Carlos Gonzalez has played through nagging injuries this season.
Weiss cited Gonzalez's performance Friday night in a 6-2 loss to the Indians. After missing a game with his latest bump, a bruised right calf, Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and kept the score close late with a diving catch in left-center.
Tendinitis in his left knee and on-and-off swelling in his left index finger have been bothersome. Neither injury can be helped with medical intervention. There are days when the injuries force Gonzalez off the field, but a stint on the disabled list will not guarantee the pain won't show up in the future. Resting him more than normal is problematic, since the best way to turn hot is to play consistently.
Gonzalez entered Sunday batting .258 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs -- not the average that the Rockies need from a two-time All-Star, but so far it's the best he can manage through injuries.
"You always admire that about a player that goes out there," Weiss said. "You want to make sure it's within reason. If a guy's really hurt, it doesn't make sense to run him out there.
"But the other night, down late in the game, he dives for that ball in the gap, makes a catch against the wall. Those are good signs that he's competing every day. The other night, he hit a home run here. That's what he can do, change the game with one swing. It's tough to take him out of the lineup."
Gonzalez's ability to make big contributions is why Weiss is riding out his difficulties.
"He's a supremely talented player, and at some point he's going to take off," Weiss said.
Blackmon providing pop from leadoff spot
CLEVELAND -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon hit his 10th homer of the season Saturday, all from the leadoff spot.
Already, two months into the season, he has eclipsed the team's record for homers from that spot -- nine by Dexter Fowler last season.
Rockies first base coach Eric Young said Blackmon, who entered Sunday batting .317 with a .355 on-base percentage, has had a strong year for a player still learning to be a leadoff man.
"To me, a leadoff guy that hits for power is like a leadoff guy who can steal bases -- he changes the game," Young said. "The pitchers really have to challenge him. They can't lay a BP [batting practice] fastball in there, because he'll take it deep."
Young said he likes the way Blackmon is seeking completeness. The next area is as a stolen-base threat. Blackmon is 10-of-13 on steal attempts, but he attempted just four in his last 31 games going into Sunday.
"Being a base-stealing threat will increase more as he steals more, and his value, respectability, and his ability to either take pitches or go after that pitch with power will increase," Young said. "Charlie is still learning his strike zone in the Major Leagues, and the more he plays, the better he's going to get."
Since the start of Spring Training, Blackmon also has shown growth in his jumps and routes in the outfield while playing center and right. Manager Walt Weiss said he knew Blackmon had physical ability, but he has learned that Blackmon studies the game well.
"He's a very cerebral player," Weiss said. "He does a lot of work before the game studying video and pitchers' tendencies, not only trying to get him out but holding runners, too. He's always looking for an opportunity to beat you."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.