As first impressions go, the Rockies looked every bit like a last-place team Monday. A home opener is supposed to be a team's handshake to its fans, an introduction, an invite for a later date.
Instead, what transpired at Coors Field was an awkward three-hour dance, with many in the sellout crowd leaving early rather than watch the Rockies step on their toes in a 7-0 loss to the rival Giants.
"The biggest thing in a game like this is that you want to get an early lead and get the fans behind you," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "We didn't give them a single thing to cheer about. Not one."
This wasn't a fresh start as much as a replay of last year's bad movie. The Rockies were outclassed in every facet. Jhoulys Chacin couldn't throw strikes, the defense committed multiple errors and the hitters lunged relentlessly at Barry Zito's lollipop curve and changeup, failing to advance a runner to third base.
"You go through stretches like this where you are really cold, then you get hot," catcher Ramon Hernandez said. "It's no reason to panic."
Viewed through the 162-game prism, this is logical. But the Rockies aren't seen in a vacuum, every mistake a reminder of last season's stench when they won only 38 times at Coors Field.
"We all know we have to dominate in our house," outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "Whoever comes in here has to know it's going to be difficult to beat us."
The only challenge Monday was watching the Rockies' uninspired performance, hardly the message the team wanted to send as it celebrates the year of the fan.
A typical Rockies home opener features a splattered box score, leaving it hard to remember which player had the most significant home run. On Monday, it was only hard to distinguish between the Rockies' follies.
Was it Chacin's five walks in four innings? He fought his emotions and mechanics, never topping 91 mph, a concern given a spring that featured biceps tendinitis and a blister on his right index finger. Chacin set the tone by allowing a two-run home run to the Giants' Pablo Sandoval, the game's third batter. Chacin walked four hitters in the third inning, his body language revealing the score as vividly as the Jumbo-Tron.
"I don't know what to say," Chacin said. "I just want to forget about this."
Walks not irritating enough? How about fielding gaffes? Gonzalez had a blooper rim off his glove. Tulowitzki was charged with an error on a one-hop throw to second baseman Marco Scutaro.
The offense certainly did nothing to camouflage the mistakes. The Rockies haven't had a hit with runners in scoring position (0-for-11) since opening day. Zito did his best Jamie Moyer impersonation. His off-speed pitches in hitter's count were akin to cotton candy. The Rockies couldn't resist the temptation, flying out 15 times.
"He did a good job of keeping us off-balance," outfielder Michael Cuddyer said.
Zito is the first Giants pitcher to throw a shutout at Coors Field, and this was his first since April 18, 2003. It helped the Giants avoid their first 0-4 start since 1950.
"It's no secret he gets buried by fans and the media," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "So to see him go out and throw a complete game, for all the haters out there, that's for them."
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.
"It's disappointing for sure, but nobody is going to panic," Tulowitzki said. "Last year we got off to a great start and look how it turned out."
Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Forgettable opening acts
The Rockies usually score big in their home openers, but Monday, for the first time, the Rockies were shut out. A look at their worst opening-day offensive showings in team history.
April 9, 2012: Giants 7, Rockies 0
Colorado manages just four hits off veteran lefty Barry Zito, who throws his first complete game shutout since 2003.
April 4, 2008: D-backs 8, Rockies 1
Arizona's Micah Owings shuts down the Rox, who manage just two hits and struck out 11 times. Todd Helton homers for Colorado.
April 8, 2002: Astros 8, Rockies 4
Houston's Roy Oswalt blanks the Rockies for six innings.
Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post