DENVER — Thoughts and prayers for Peter Lambert.
If the 22-year-old righthander decides to board the next train out of Dodge and hit up State Farm for a career in insurance, can you blame him?
With a quarter century as proof, this is what Coors Field does to pitchers. It messes with their minds. It teases them with a 3-1 score here, a 4.35 ERA there, then chomps down and sends 'em off to hang out with Eddie Butler and Tyler Matzek. It’s painful to watch — and even worse to endure.
"I've never really seen anything like that, those types of games," Charlie Blackmon said after the Rockies collapsed in a 14-13 loss to the Padres on Sunday, closing the Coorsiest of Coors Field series yet.
We could break down the latest gut-wrenching defeat the Rox gave themselves, but you’ve read this script 100 times before, dating back to 1995. Ignited by Chuck Blackmon, again, the bats were on fire! Then the bullpen came on to allow six unanswered runs. Padres win, Padres win. Ugh, ugh.
At some point you must consider the possibility it’s impossible to sustain winning baseball here. This is that point: the teams combined for 92 runs, the most in a four-game series since 1900. That’s not normal. That's a recipe for eating up a young pitcher’s psyche before he’s reached the All-Star break of his first season in the big leagues. Lambert had a front-row seat to the carnage after getting shelled for eight runs.
Making his third start, that must be like standing atop a black diamond just his third time on skis.
“It’s super frustrating,” Lambert said.
It wasn’t the smartest thing to say when Rockies owner Dick Monfort said two trips to the playoffs every five seasons is the goal here at elevation.
But I can’t blame a man for telling the truth. Baseball’s dominated by pitching. With an outlier here and there, Coors Field dominates pitching.
“I don’t think the pitching was great,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
What’s a losing run total at Coors Field? Mark it eight, Dude. In each of Colorado’s four games against the Padres the winning team scored at least nine runs. The teams combined for 131 hits, two shy of the record since 1900. A month elsewhere is a weekend series here.
They saved the longest for last. Two wild pitches, 11 hits, nine runs, two at-bats and five total bases for Blackmon... and a busted water pipe that sent waves of water gushing into the right-field turf and led to a 15-minute delay.
Then the second inning started.
Sunday’s game lasted 4.5 hours of real time. The Rockies and Padres played over 16 hours worth of baseball, including weather and water delays, over a series that would never end. Hey, I love a day at the park as much as the next American. But that's too long. It just is, and the extra time must impact a player's performance over 162 games.
“I feel like we were being tested today, for sure. That was a really tough time to have that (delays) happen — a day game after a night game,” Blackmon said after knocking out 15 hits over a four-game series, the most in history in the modern era. “Guys’ bodies are really on the edge. Then to sit down and have a delay, then to sit down and have another delay...”
These Rockies are too talented up and down the lineup to fade away before the playoff race heats up in earnest. But weird baseball is back at Coors Field. There's no doubt about that. Weird baseball took a two-year hiatus, but now is flexing its muscles again at 5,280 feet.
Just to make sure, during the seventh-inning of the latest marathon, I wandered down to the concrete underbelly of Coors Field. Yep, the humidor was humming and still plugged in.
“What is that, a 4-3 homestand?” slugger Daniel Murphy said. “I’ll take it.”
Give him a break. He’s new around here.
Blame Bud Black, if you want, for calling for a pair of intentional walks that led to Jon Gray walking home the tying run in the ninth inning.
“They were out of position players and we felt our best matchup was getting their pitcher in the box,” Black explained.
Blame the bullpen for blowing a five-run lead on Friday and a three-run lead on Sunday.
“You try to get better and get ready for the next series,” closer Wade Davis said.
Blame 'em all, but we've seen this movie before. Winning with football scores isn't sustainable. The winning team here the last three days scored 16, 14 and 14 runs. Vance Joseph's Broncos lost straight three games last fall by scoring 16, 14 and 14 points.
Shrink the outfield, raise the fences, let the reconfiguration of Coors Field begin. Or a division title will remain a busted-pipe dream.