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Pitching, hitting yet to work harmoniously

Pitching, hitting yet to work harmoniously

Pitching, hitting yet to work harmoniously
DENVER -- The Rockies' 2-4 road trip to Miami and Cincinnati was a festival of frustration for an offense that kept racing out to leads or scoring runs, only to have pitchers give runs away faster. The season is becoming a test for hitters and pitchers. Can hitters keep from imploding out of frustration? Can pitchers improve before hitter frustration becomes inevitable?

"You can slice it and dice it any way you want to, but we very easily could have won five out of six games," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We averaged close to six runs a game offensively, we've got our 3-4 combination starting to fire collectively, which only enhances our offense. And you have the Heltons and Cuddyers, and [rookie third baseman Jordan] Pacheco has done a nice job. The bullpen has done a very credible job over the last week to 10 days.

"We need to be more consistent from a starting pitching standpoint. It's that simple."

A handful of times this season, the pitchers excelled when the offense struggled. But this time, the offense left little reason to quarrel.

Carlos Gonzalez went 7-for-25 (.280) and finished the trip with a two-homer game Sunday -- when the Rockies went deep five times and lost, 7-5, to the Reds. Cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki was 9-for-24 (.375) with three homers and nine RBIs. Todd Helton, struggling before leaving town, hit .313, and Michael Cuddyer hit .333 after slumping during the last homestand.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't continue," Tulowitzki said. "You look up and down the lineup and we have proven guys, and some young guys swinging the bats well. You can go through spurts here and there where you're not swinging as well as others, but, for the most part, we should be pretty productive.

"What we were saying in the dugout was, 'We gave up some, answer back. We're going to have to win it with our bats today.' Pitchers know they're not doing the greatest. Hopefully, they'll figure it out. When they do, we'll be a lot better."

In past years, the team has surged when Tulowitzki and Gonzalez surged. This year is different. There is no ace pitcher. The rotation consists of inexperience, with a couple of workmanlike veterans in Jeremy Guthrie and Jamie Moyer, who haven't been consistently effective. Jhoulys Chacin trying to pitch through injury for five starts then going onto the disabled list didn't help.

Gonzalez admitted it's frustrating, but he knew difficulties were possible.

"To wait is hard, because you want to win bad every single day, but you also understand that this game is not easy," Gonzalez said. "Even good players struggle. Look at how long it took Albert Pujols to make adjustments in the American League [with the Angels], playing in a new stadium, new fans, new pitchers. That's how everybody feels the first day in the big leagues.

"If you want to be successful, you have to make the adjustments. And for me, as a teammate, I have to be patient and feel they're going to find their way."

If frustration hasn't eaten the team from inside out, the players hear fan dissatisfaction in Denver, with fans booing and calling for replacements of key decision makers.

"It's tough to hear, anytime you come to your home ballpark, hearing this many boos, a lot of people in the paper talking about your teammates and people in the organization," Tulowitzki said. "It does touch you a little bit, but it's part of the business. We're trying to turn some of those boos into cheers. Hopefully, we can do that here.

"That's been the toughest part for me. On the road, guys are at ease because the fans are going to be against you anyway. We kind of expect it. Here, it's kind of a shock."

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