As first impressions go, the Rockies looked every bit like a last-place team today. A home-opener is a team's handshake to fans, an introduction and a thank you.
Instead, it was an awkward three-hour dance, with the sellout crowd Monday leaving early rather than watch the Rockies step on its toes for three hours in a 7-0 loss to the rival Giants.
"Tone to a game and tempo to a game is obviously very important. The tempo we set early was not very good," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, referring to the struggles of starter Jhoulys Chacin. "The outcome of this game was decided early on."
This wasn't a fresh start as much as a Cliff Notes version of last season. The Rockies were outclassed in every facet. Chacin couldn't throw strikes, there were multiple errors for the second time in three games and the hitters lunged harmlessly at Giants' left-hander Barry Zito's lollipop curve.
"We know if we are going to improve we have to be dominant in our house," Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "Whoever comes here to play has to know it's going to be difficult."
The only thing difficult Monday was watching the Rockies' uninspired performance, hardly the message the team wanted to send after winning just 38 games at Coors Field last season.
Typical home openers have left fans unable to remember all the home runs. It was hard to distinguish between the Rockies' follies on Monday. Was it Chacin's five walks in four innings? He fought his emotions and mechanics, never topping 91 miles per hour, a concern given his uneven spring. Chacin set the tone by allowing a two-run home to the Giants' Pablo Sandoval, the game's third batter. Chacin never established his fastball on either side of the plate.
Perhaps it was the fielding gaffes? Gonzalez dropped a flyball when he and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki appeared to have a miscommunication. Tulowitzki then short-hopped a throw to second-baseman Marco Scutaro for another error.
The offense couldn't camouflage the mistakes, looking harmless against Zito. He was knocked around all spring, but he toyed with the Rockies, notching his first complete game shutout since April 18, 2003. It helped the Giants avoid their first 0-4 start since 1950.
The Rockies didn't advance a single runner to third base. Zito finished with 112 pitches, striking out four and not issuing a walk. He used a two-way breaking ball that had the Rockies leaping off balance as the hitters were looking for fastballs.
It's the first time the Rockies have been shut out in a home opener. And given the boos that rained down after the final out, it left a lasting impression with disgruntled fans.
Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1294 or firstname.lastname@example.org