Rockies pound Pettibone, Phillies

Infielders Jimmy Rollins #11, Chase Utley #26, Cody Asche #25 and Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Philadelphia Phillies await a pitching change in the seventh inning at Coors Field on April 18, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Infielders Jimmy Rollins #11, Chase Utley #26, Cody Asche #25 and Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies of the Philadelphia Phillies await a pitching change in the seventh inning at Coors Field on April 18, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Posted: April 20, 2014

DENVER - The waterfalls erupted beyond center field Friday night at Coors Field to signal a Rockies home run, and the Phillies bullpen did not budge. This was the second inning of a 12-1 Phillies embarrassment, the first test of a 10-game road trip, and Jonathan Pettibone was to endure this bludgeoning alone.

Pettibone was napalm inside a flammable ballpark. Colorado scored seven times before it made six outs. The Rockies' offense, which leads the National League in runs scored, is a threat to any pitcher.

Carlos Gonzalez was intentionally walked immediately before superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki bashed a three-run homer in the second. Charlie Blackmon, one of the game's hottest hitters, lurked atop their lineup. Justin Morneau protected them all.

"They came out swinging," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We set a tough tone for ourselves and got behind early. We pitched behind in the count. They were on fastballs in fastball counts and didn't miss any."

The Phillies, meanwhile, were held hitless until Cody Asche singled with two outs in the fifth. Tyler Chatwood, the owner of a career 4.51 ERA, pitched seven stress-free innings. Colorado pelted 18 hits. The Phillies mustered two.

No, this was not a favorable pairing. Pettibone, who combated shoulder soreness in spring training, was demoted to triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game because his time as Cole Hamels' placeholder ended with two mediocre starts. Veteran reliever Shawn Camp will replace him as an extra bullpen arm.

Pettibone and Chatwood opposed one another here last June. The outcome was similar. It was difficult to imagine Pettibone making a worse appearance at Coors Field than his first, a three-inning outing that yielded six earned runs on 10 hits. But he did.

Tulowitzki's smash in the second inning rendered the remainder of Friday meaningless. But it was his 14-pitch walk in the first inning that swayed everything. He fouled off eight straight pitches, including a flare that almost landed in Jimmy Rollins' glove for what would have been a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab. Instead, Tulowitzki lingered.

Morneau then crushed a Pettibone fastball to the vast left-field gap for a two-run double. A groundout and single plated two more. In all, Pettibone threw 36 pitches in a soul-sucking first inning.

Tulowitzki made quicker work in the second; he slammed an 0-1 fastball deep into the night.

"Pettibone is still trying to get some rust off," Sandberg said. "Pitching behind in the count and throwing elevated fastballs is a tough combination."

Pettibone continued for four innings and 93 pitches because this is Coors Field, and Sandberg wanted to preserve his bullpen for the craziness that could ensue over the weekend. The Phillies manager was happy to enter this ballpark with a rested bullpen; the relievers pitched two innings in the three previous days.

The important arms stayed fresh, little consolation on a lost night.


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb www.inquirer.com/

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