Street hoping to tame home run issue

Street hoping to tame home run issue

Street hoping to tame home run issue
DENVER -- The Rockies are in a period in which they aren't bashful about using change. But despite the fact Huston Street has given up five home runs in his last eight appearances, he remains the closer -- for now.

"Not today," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said when asked if he was considering changing his ninth-inning strategy. "But I do know this: we need to keep the ball in the ballpark."

There have been several personnel moves, but Tracy also made a strategic move this week by backing right-handed setup man Rafael Betancourt out of the eighth inning while he tries to regain consistency. So if balls keep flying over fences -- the D-backs' Kelly Johnson was the latest to take Street deep, with a two-run shot that took the air out of a rally in a 6-3 loss Thursday night -- Street could find himself watching the Rockies try to close games.

Street understands fully.

"As a player, you do as you're told," Street said. "You have an opinion about what you're capable of doing, and obviously my opinion is I know I can pitch the ninth. I know I can get it done in the ninth.

"But if you approach this game the right way, I don't think anybody feels, 'I can take a breather because I'm pitching the seventh.' You can lose the game in the seventh just as you can lose the game in the ninth. It does give you confidence as a player when they stick with you through a rough patch, but the bottom line is you've got to work through it to keep it. That's something I understand."

Street lengthened his stride toward home plate earlier this month. The immediate results were efficient saves as the Rockies took two straight over the Giants. In fairness, he has been mostly on target -- 23 strikeouts against four walks in 24 2/3 innings this season.

But the mistakes tend to travel a long way, and that really hurts at the end of games. In his last two appearances, he gave up a leadoff homer to Yuniesky Betancourt in the 13th inning of an eventual Rockies loss in Milwaukee and he served up Johnson's homer.

One way Street, whose seven home runs allotted this year in just 24 2/3 innings matches his career high for a season, remains confident is by taking a step back from the numbers. In nine May appearances, he is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA, but he is 4-of-6 on save chances and 14-of-16 for the season.

Street chuckled that there's no rule saying all his mistakes have to be knocked out of the park, but it seems that way.

"When you're really close, it's even more frustrating, because you barely miss and they beat you," Street said. "It's making pitch after pitch, which is what I've done for seven years of my career. You look at previous seasons and you realize where you were at the same time that year, and say, 'I had a really good year that year, and I'm actually ahead of where I was at that time numbers-wise.'

"The truth is, it's number of runs. I've given up 11 runs, and I've given up 10 of those runs on seven swings. It stands to reason if I can limit the homers, I'm going to be really good."