If anything, the Rockies' slumbering lumber softened the sting of starting pitcher Josh Fogg's struggles in his first big league start in nearly a year. Fogg had pitched three innings or more out of the bullpen four times in August, giving up a total of five runs in relief. He lasted only three-plus innings in his start Wednesday, yielding six runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batsman. He faced six batters in the fourth inning but was unable to retire any of them as the game got out of hand early.
"I didn't make very good pitches," Fogg said. "I didn't throw very many strikes, so giving a good team free bases like I was, you're asking to pay the price, and I did. The ball wasn't coming out of my hand the way I wanted it to. Seems like if I commanded it well when I was throwing strikes it was more of the plate than I wanted to get. When I was trying to go to the corners I was missing. The combination of those two against a good team was not good for me."
All of Fogg's runs came off the long ball, as the Dodgers took him deep three times. He gave up a pair to Andre Ethier, including a one-out, two-run blast over the center-field fence in the first and a leadoff homer skied over the right-field scoreboard to start a four-run fourth. James Loney capped the rally with a three-run shot to right. All of the Dodgers runners for the two multirun homers were on base by virtue of walks or, for Manny Ramirez in the fourth, a hit-by-pitch.
"It just seemed like he got to trying to make perfect pitches after surrendering the home run," Tracy said. "That's not when Josh Fogg succeeds. He's aggressive with his stuff, he gets in the strike zone. People hit home runs. If you've created problems for yourself before someone takes a swing, that's when that multiple-run home run goes up there and it's tough to overcome. You're putting yourself in a very vulnerable spot. Solo home runs do not beat you. Three-run home runs do."
DIGGING OUT OF A BIG HOLE
|These three teams overcame the largest deficits to finish in first place. No team has ever overcome a 15 1/2-game deficit to win a division or a league title, which is what the Rockies are threatening to do.|
|Boston Braves||1914||15 games|
|New York Yankees||1978||14 games|
|New York Giants||1951||13 games|
The Rockies' run also came with a single swing, as Ryan Spilborghs sent a Wolf offering into the seats in left with two outs in the third.
"He just left a changeup down the middle," Spilborghs said. "That was the worst pitch he made all day. He's got deception. He moves the ball in and out really well. He throws a cutter, has a changeup, he has a good curveball. He changes speeds, changes looks on it. I don't think he threw two pitches the same in one at-bat, so he kept us guessing. I think we even got caught looking at fastballs down the middle. It just shows that he was throwing us off, with an aggressive-hitting team."
Aside from Spilborghs' homer, there were few offensive highlights, with Eric Young Jr. topping the list with a 2-for-4 night despite his caught stealing when he misread a sign. Troy Tulowitzki legged out a pair of infield singles.
"I'm not really concerned about them," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said about the Rockies' uncharacteristically quiet lineup. "I have a great deal of respect for that team, but it's all about how we play. Right now we've got to get in a mode where we're playing consistently and winning more games."
Juan Rincon slowed the Dodgers' momentum with solid relief for the Rockies, pitching four hitless innings in his longest outing in more than six years. With Matt Herges pitching two scoreless innings to finish the game, the long men in the bullpen came up big in sparing the rest of the relievers.
"I wasn't expecting to go out there and pitch that much," Rincon said. "It was good that I was able to get the job done and help out the bullpen, because I know they've been roughed up the last couple of games. I was getting tired with the innings, and I think that was pretty much [to be expected]. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to find that out."
It was Rincon's first appearance since going on the disabled list Aug. 1 with right elbow stiffness. He posted a 6.20 ERA in 23 games before his DL trip, and Tracy thought he looked like the vintage Rincon from his glory days in Minnesota.
"I wasn't trying to overthrow or anything like that," Rincon said. "I was just trying to get ahead of the hitters. If you fall behind, they're going to make you pay, so I was just trying to get first pitch over. There were a lot of times where they hit the ball on the first pitch, so that was huge. It saved the pitch count."