DENVER (AP) – Aaron Cook was more concerned with sinkers than sentiments as he made what could be his last start for the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
The longtime Rockies pitcher tuned out his emotions — as best he could, anyway.
Cook recovered from a rough opening inning to tie a career high with eight strikeouts in a 4-0 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday in the Rockies’ final home game of the season.
“I went out there and just tried to be myself,” Cook said. “Tried to go out there and give us a chance to win. Just didn’t happen.”
Cook (3-10) has had a tough season in the final year of his contract. It started early in spring training with shoulder stiffness and only escalated when he fractured his right pointer finger by slamming it in a door soon after. The injury caused him to miss the first two months of the season.
From there, the sinkerball specialist just never felt like himself, the one that has become the team’s all-time leader in wins (72), innings pitched (1,312 1-3) and starts (206).
“Never really pitched the way I thought I was capable of pitching,” Cook said.
Given the disappointing season by the Rockies — a trendy pick to win the NL West in spring training — the team could be looking to shake things up.
And Cook could be gone. It’s a fact he readily realizes.
But he said emotions didn’t get the better of him on the mound Wednesday. He actually felt like he was able to treat this as any other game.
“One thing I’ve tried to pride myself on over the years is to take emotion out of any pitch or any game,” Cook said. “Just go out there and play like I did when I was a little kid.”
As for his future, Cook’s not sure what’s going to happen. But he would like to return.
“I’d love to be a Rockie for life,” Cook said. “There’s the business side of baseball that happens.
“It’s been a wonderful ride. It’s been great being here.”
Cook has been with the Rockies for the last 10 seasons. He started a game for Colorado in the 2007 World Series and another in the ’09 postseason. He also pitched in the ’08 All-Star Game.
“I hope it isn’t his last start,” said Troy Tulowitzki, who was back in the starting lineup for the first time since last week. “He’s meant so much to this organization.”
Cook settled in after a forgettable first inning in which he surrendered four runs. His sinker began working better and his accuracy was much more pinpoint as he struck out eight in a game for the third time in his career.
That’s more like the Cook of old, right?
“I don’t think I looked anything like my old self,” Cook chuckled. “I gave up four in the first and struck out eight — that’s not typical me anything.”
The reeling Rockies have dropped seven straight at home, their longest drought ever at Coors. The team lost nine in a row at home in their inaugural season of 1993 when they played at old Mile High Stadium.
Tulowitzki returned to the lineup, but was pulled in the sixth inning.
That was part of Rockies manager Jim Tracy’s plan. He didn’t want to overwork Tulowitzki and risk further injury.
Same with first baseman Todd Helton (back) and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (right wrist), who were held out of the lineup Wednesday. Tracy doesn’t want to do anything that could jeopardize his star players with the Rockies out of the postseason picture.
“You want to be respectable as you possibly can as you go through the finish line of the season,” Tracy said. “But the reality is, when you go to spring training of 2012, 30 teams are 0-0 and you start over again.
“What you don’t want to do is do something foolish to win 72 versus 73 games and ruin a significant piece for a great portion of 2012 over that one extra win.”
The Rockies had difficulty hitting rookie Anthony Bass once again.
Bass (2-0) pitched five solid innings as a spot starter to help the Padres complete a rare three-game sweep of the Rockies.
The 23-year-old Bass cruised through this game, allowing just two hits and throwing an economical 52 pitches before leaving after a leadoff walk in the sixth. Both of his major league wins have now come at Colorado.
NOTES: Rockies RHP Alex White, who was acquired in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with Cleveland, will throw Thursday in Houston against Henry Sosa. … The Rockies finished 38-43 at home. … The Padres earned their first sweep of three or more games in Denver since April 2001.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)