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NH's Locke suffers a Rocky Mountain low

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

July 27. 2014 7:28PM
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke pitches to Colorado Rockies left fielder Brandon Barnes during the fifth inning of a game last week at PNC Park. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

DENVER — In two games on the High Plains, the Pirates pitchers, including New Hampshire’s Jeff Locke, have made Coors Field look like Coors Field. The Pirates bats have made the venue seem far more humid and closer to sea level.

After a second consecutive 8-1 loss to the Rockies, the Pirates on Saturday looked like a team that perhaps could use upgrading before the trade deadline. The Pirates have been drubbed in back-to-back games by a team that is fighting with the Chicago Cubs for the National League’s worst record.

The Pirates have starting pitching depth, but published reports have had them in search of upgrades to their rotation and bullpen. Coors Field is a difficult environment to judge any pitcher, but Locke, of Conway, N.H., didn’t make a strong case for the Pirates to sit tight in his last start before the trade deadline.

Locke attacked the strike zone, but he left too many pitches elevated over the plate. Locke allowed three home runs.

In the third, Josh Rutledge served a Locke changeup into center that caught too much plate to score Charlie Blackmon. In the fourth, Drew Stubbs smashed a 93 mph Locke fastball into the left-field seats for a home run. The Rockies strung together three hits in the fifth to produce two runs and take a 4-0 lead.

In the seventh, Nolan Arenado smashed an elevated Locke fastball into the left field seats. Corey Dickerson lifted a Locke curveball into the right field seats to give the Rockies a 6-0 lead.

Locke allowed six runs, 10 hits, walked three and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings.

“I was not 100 percent sharp,” Locke said. “If they could pitch like they hit, they wouldn’t be 15 and a half (games) back.”

Red Sox/MLB Conway