In just his second career appearance, Escalona made a mental mistake by failing to cover first base in the ninth inning, part of a sequence that cost the Rockies a run in San Diego's 7-6 victory.
With runners at first and second base, Chase Headley(notes) hit a grounder to Todd Helton(notes), who was playing deep. Escalona never moved from the mound area and Headley easily beat Helton to the bag.
Colorado's loss dropped them four games in the loss column behind the first-place Padres and also left them 3 1/2 back of the Atlanta Braves in the wild card race.
Escalona's brain cramp wasn't Rockies' only self-inflicted wound — a point which might have been a part of Gonzalez's dugout chat. Look! It's almost like Gonzalez was absolving his teammate and Venezuelan countryman for a sin!
It should be noted that, despite his advantage in major league experience, Gonzalez is less than a year older than Escalona. Good job on CarGo's part when others — including Rockies manager Jim Tracy — failed.
Though his bullpen has been stretched in recent days because Colorado's starting pitching has faltered, Tracy failed to use Huston Street(notes) in either of the first two games against San Diego. The ninth inning Tuesday would have been a good time for Street, even though it wasn't a save situation.
Via the Denver Post:
"With them leading by two runs, it made no sense to bring him in," Tracy said.
It made some sense. Keeping the Padres as close as possible, with the Rockies' offense waiting in the wings, is what a manager should want. Instead of using his best reliever who hadn't pitched since Sunday, Tracy tried to get by with an untested rookie with one entire inning of experience. Escalona seems to have great stuff, but he's obviously not all there yet.
His first pitch of the inning — a wild fastball that catcher Miguel Olivo(notes) barely slowed down with his mitt — was an indication Escalona wasn't up to this kind of situation. He allowed four baserunners in his inning of work; It was somewhat miraculous the Rockies were still in position to rally at all in the bottom of the ninth.
Hopefully, for his own sake, what Gonzalez said will register with Escalona. Regardless, CarGo gets a point for leadership!
In the meantime, Tracy might want to get Huston Street in a ballgame while the Rockies are still mathematically viable for a playoff spot.
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