Thursday, May 14, 2009

10-Game Road Trip Will Define Colorado Rockies Season

The Colorado Rockies will embark on a defining 10 game, three city road trip on Friday. They have struggled in nearly every aspect of the game through the first six weeks of the season.

On Thursday the Colorado Rockies completed an eight game home stand in which they went 3-5. The club seemed to find a new way to lose in all five games they played. If the offense scored runs, the starting pitching struggled. If the starting pitching was good, the bats were silent. If the offense battled, and the starting pitching was there, the defense found a way to play themselves out of the game.

The scenario's seem to be the same over and over for this struggling squad. The same story has been told time and time again through the first six weeks.

If the story stays the same for another week or so, the Rockies dream of contending in 2009 will be just that, a dream.

The key to the Rockies success is finding a way to string together some momentum. They need to find a way to ignite all aspects of the squad and turn a good game into a string of wins. That is easier said than done, especially for this bunch.

For Colorado to string together a few wins in a row, a few things will need to happen all at once. The first is simple. Garrett Atkins, a career .293 hitter, needs to find his stroke, plain and simple. To put it lightly, Atkins has been absolutely terrible. He is making the Rockies front office wish that they had traded him for anything that they could have gotten for him this off season. After his base hit on Thursday, he now has only four hits in all of May. His batting average now stands at an abysmal .198.

If Atkins can get hot, he can provide some much needed support to Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton, who have been carrying the bulk of the offense through the beginning of the season. When those two are on base, Atkins has failed to drive them in.

Atkins bat could go a long way to provide some relief to the pitching staff and extend some offensive innings.

The second aspect of the game that the Rockies need for success on the up coming road trip is continued success from the starting pitching.

While Jason Marquis has suffered two rough outings in a row, the rest of the staff has been extremely good as of late. Both Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez started out the year poorly, but have found a resurgence and are pitching extremely well.

Jorge De La Rosa has been phenomenal. He is pitching to the tune of a 3.53 ERA in six starts. Unfortunately for De La Rosa, he is still searching for his first win. This is due to an unexplained power outage from the offense every fifth day when De La Rosa takes the ball.

Jason Hammel has shown signs of life from the fifth spot in the rotation. While he initially struggled at Coors Field, he threw well on Thursday, losing due to an incredibly sloppy performance by the defense behind him.

The Rockies stand 9-1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West and, although it is May, are running out of time. If they finish this road trip 3-7 or 4-6 they could be up to 12 games out of the race, in need of another September 2007 like run.

In other words, if the Colorado Rockies have any dreams of playing meaningful games in September, they need to win on the road, and they need to win now.

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