There’s an old saying that says sometimes you have to break some eggs to make an omelet. For Colorado Rockies starting pitcher David Hale, instituting some new mechanics into his throwing motion resulted in some problems on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field, but he and the Rockies believe the end result will be well worth the cost.
Hale threw four wild pitches against the New York Mets, setting a franchise record, as the visitors logged a 5-1 victory in the series finale. It gave the Mets their first-ever sweep of the Rockies in Colorado after consecutive 14-9 wins the previous two nights. The loss capped off a 2-7 homestand for the Rockies, who now own the worst record in Major League Baseball at 49-73.
For Hale, it was truly a case of feast or famine in Sunday’s start. The right-hander threw a wild pitch on consecutive pitches to the same batter, allowing two different runners to score in the second inning, marking the first time that had happened in MLB in more than two years. However, Hale also tied a career-high with nine strikeouts, becoming the first pitcher to have at least four wild pitches and nine or more strikeouts since James Baldwin of the Chicago White Sox in 1996. He’s only the 10th pitcher since 1914 to have those high marks in both categories.
“It took him a few innings to get used to some of the new mechanics,” Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. “He looked out of whack early but then settled in and gave us some length. You could tell things were going through his mind mechanically early on but he settled in for us.”
After giving up five runs and six hits in the game’s first three innings, Hale retired the next 10 batters in order, including strikeouts to open his final two frames on the mound. In all, Hale would surrender four earned runs and six hits in six innings and walk just two.
“I made some mechanical adjustments this week, trying to keep myself more in line,” Hale said. “It was tough when things weren’t working early and my sliders were bouncing, but it will be for the better. I started out having a lot of problems, but I was happy with the way the ball was moving.”
Hale said it was important in his mind to trust the change and stick with it, even with his early struggles.
“I started trusting what I had practiced,” Hale said. “I let it work for me.”
While Hale was having early problems, Logan Verrett soared through his first start as a Met. He pitched a career-high seven innings and struck out a career-high eight batters. In his nine Triple-A starts this season, Verrett had pitched longer than five innings on just one occasion.
His only mistake was a fourth-inning homer by Carlos Gonzalez, but that was one of just four hits the Rockies logged on the day.
“He was tremendous today at hitting his spots and working out of trouble,” said Gonzalez, who has now hit 30 homers in a season for the second time in his career. “They scored early and got off quick. The game got away quickly. It was like we looked up and the game was in the eighth inning.”
Colorado now hits the road for six games, beginning with a three-game set in Atlanta on Monday night. The Rockies swept a four-game series from the Braves just before the All-Star Game.