As far as I’m concerned, most of the blame should have been heaped on the shoulders of relief pitcher Wilton Lopez.
Giving up three earned runs in the eighth inning and watching your earned run average balloon to 27.00 in game No. 1 is not the way to impress your new team.
To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with Lopez, so I had to look him up. He was traded to the Rockies from the Houston Astros in early December. That was fitting — he turned out to be that bicycle that a kid gets for Christmas, only to have the wheels come off the first time it’s used.
Lopez gave up four hits in his one inning of work. His defenders will be quick to point out that two of those were infield hits, but the Rockies were four outs away from victory and had the lead when Lopez’s wheels came off. The big blow, a double to deep left field by Aramis Ramirez, was anything but an infield hit.
So who is this Lopez guy anyway? We know he came from the Astros, so that should mean that he’s not used to being on a talented roster, but a closer look might reveal otherwise.
Lopez went 6-3 for the 55-107 Astros last season. The team’s ERA weighed in at mouth-watering (for batters) 4.56. Lopez’s ERA? 2.17. He led the staff in that department, followed by Wesley Wright at 3.27. Lopez played in 64 games and recorded a team-high 10 saves. He also led the team with 6.75 strikeouts for every walk he allowed.
Lopez has kept his ERA below 3.00 for each of the past three seasons — and this was while playing on an inept Houston squad.
So while some might be inclined to hang this guy by his cleats off of one of the trees in the bullpen, his numbers say that it’s worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. But, with a fan base in Denver that’s eager to see its Rockies show some signs of life, Lopez would be wise to quickly let some of the air out of his suddenly-inflated ERA.