On Friday night they failed to do so as they were shut down by the Giants in a game that evened the surprise teams up in the Wild Card race.
Jason Hammel, on the mound for the Rockies in place of All Star Jason Marquis, pitched well enough to keep his team in the game. He went six innings, giving up three runs, a good performance from a number five starter in the rotation. That, however, would not be enough as the Rockies offense was stymied by Cain and the Giants.
With two outs in the sixth inning, just after Garrett Atkins plated the Rockies first run with a double, the Rockies had the tying run at second base with Brad Hawpe at the plate. Hawpe, one of the league’s most consistent hitters with two outs and runners in scoring position, failed to get the job done, striking out to end the inning.
In the ninth inning, Colorado once again had the tying run on base with Troy Tulowitzki at the plate. Giants closer Brian Wilson was backed into a corner. With the game on the line, Wilson got Tulo to bounce into a double play that essentially ended the Rockies threat.
It was a tough loss for the Rockies, who are battling it out with the Giants for the top spot in the National League Wild Card race.
The performance was not what the team was looking for to start the series. If they had gone out and beat Cain in the first game, it would have been a huge momentum builder going into the final game of the series.
While the loss was not one that the Rockies wanted, they cannot feel down about the game. They faced one of the best pitchers in the league in Cain, a young man who has finally received the run support that he lacked in his first two big league seasons.
While one of the Rockies early problems was getting big hits with runners in scoring position, this is not a situation where the club should be beating itself up over the results. They were facing a top shelf pitcher, who has the stuff to get any hitter out at any given time.
While results should be expected from an offense that boasts as much talent as the Rockies have, games like Friday night’s happen to the best lineups.
Knowing that Colorado had their number five starter going against an All-Star like Cain and only losing 3-1 shows that the Rockies are able to compete with the Giants pitch for pitch.
Good pitching will always beat good hitting, and that was the case on Friday as the Rox ran into a buzz saw in Cain.
It does put a certain amount of pressure on the team as they are now looking to win two straight against San Francisco, something that does not look very inviting knowing that they will be facing Jonathan Sanchez, who threw the first no hitter of 2009. Colorado is countering with Jorge De La Rosa, who has been good, but is still apt to give up the big inning.
While this series is big for both teams, fans should not jump the gun if they do poorly or if they do well. Every game counts and every win counts, but the fact remains that this is late July and as long as the Rockies stay away from getting more than four or five games back they will be just fine.