Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rockies Lose Lackluster Game Against Giants, Backs Against The Wall

So much for burying the Giants. After the second straight lackluster night in San Francisco, the Rockies found themselves up just 2-1/2 games in the National League Wild Card race.

With a 4-1/2 game lead coming into the series, it was well reported that if the Rockies won just one game in the series, they would be just fine. That is still possible, but after the way the Rockies played on Monday and Tuesday night, winning a game on Wednesday night against Matt Cain seems as close to impossible as it gets.

However, the fact remains that while the Rockies were shooting for a good series in San Francisco, they knew that if they were able to take one out of the three games they would be just fine. It is a tall order, but stranger things have happened. The Rockies can go to their hotel rooms tonight knowing that if they can shower off the previous two nights, they have a one game opportunity to stick it to the Giants and go into the final 15 ball games with a 3-1/2 game lead, a very difficult amount of games to make up in just over two weeks.

While the Rockies were blown out on Tuesday, the game hinged on one play.

In the bottom of the first inning Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez got into trouble. He gave up a walk, a base hit, and a walk to the Giants to load the bases with no one out. Jimenez reached deep and struck out Pablo Sandoval. He was not out of trouble, but had a perfect opportunity to work his way out of the jam facing Bengie Molina, the slowest runner in baseball. Jimenez delivered, getting a tailor-made double play ground ball to third baseman Garrett Atkins. Atkins, however, botched the ground ball, allowing a run to score and keeping the bases loaded with just one out. The Giants scored three runs in the inning and the game was over.

Atkins was in the lineup because the Giants had lefty Barry Zito on the mound and Jim Tracy wanted to stack the lineup with right handed hitters to improve his odds at the plate after four straight pathetic offensive performances. The only problem with that thought is the amount of defense given up at third base. It would be different if Atkins provided a solid bat. That would be worth the loss of defense, but Atkins has been anything but an offensive lift with his .223 batting average.

Atkins also made another error on the night and bobbled all four balls that were hit to him. His defense make any hope the Rockies had of being in the game float away in the breeze off of the bay.

Despite the loss, and the four game losing streak, the Rockies have a golden opportunity to regain a cushion in the wild card race. If they are able to string together a few good at bats and get on the board against Matt Cain, they may be able to salvage the final game of the series which would put the Giants against the wall and give the Rockies an excellent opportunity to slam the door shut on them in the next week.

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