Friday, May 7, 2010

Rockies Need to Make a Statement in LA

It almost seems inevitable at this point. The Rockies struggle early, thats just the way it goes.

Despite a series win in San Diego and a road trip that shows the Rockies sporting a .500 record, the truth is, they are not a team that is playing well.

The Rockies are playing poor defense, they leave too many runners in scoring position, they strike out too much, their starting pitching has been average on days when a pitcher other than Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound, and the back of their bullpen has been the leading cause of heart attacks on the front range.

It seems to be the same story that was told in 2007, 2008 and 2009. There is one difference so far for the 2010 Rockies, however. These Rockies have found a way to keep their heads above water.

Despite Franklin Morales looking like a kid who stepped to the mound for the first time in kid pitch, despite Aaron Cook trying to convince himself and everyone else that he is more than a sinker ball pitcher, despite the offense failing to come through in the clutch, and despite the defense kicking the ball around on the infield, these Rockies are 14-14. That's right, they are a .500 team.

These Rockies do not have to act like the teams before them, walking the first 10 miles of a marathon, then deciding to sprint the rest of the way. These Rockies can simply pick up the pace and keep themselves close, then find the right time to make their move. However, they cannot wait forever to make their move.

If the Rockies really wanted to make a statement. If they really wanted to prove that this team is better than 2009's, the have ample opportunity in their next three games against the Dodgers.

In 2009, the Dodgers beat the Rockies 14-out of-18 games. If the Rockies had done just two games better, they would have won the National League West for the first time in their history.

The Dodgers were a team full of swagger in '09. Their offense was full of young stars waiting to emerge, with the backdrop of Manny Ramirez.

The 2010 Dodgers are quite a bit different. They have holes up and down their starting rotation and a messy divorce between the owners has spilled drama into the clubhouse.

If the Rockies want to win the National League West, they must do better against the Dodgers. The Rockies must find a way to play with confidence against a team that absolutely owned them the previous season. If there ever was a chance of that happening, it is now.

With Ubaldo Jimenez scheduled to pitch on Sunday, a win on Friday night would go far for the club. It would swing momentum to them, and take pressure off of Jhoulys Chacin who will start on Saturday night. The Rockies face Hiroki Kuroda on Friday, the Dodgers top pitcher so far in 2010. Knowing that the rest of the rotation has been inconsistent, defeating Kuroda would go a long way to keep the Dodgers confidence low.

The fact is, despite their struggles so far in 2010, the Rockies are sitting at 14-14, very much in the race and very much ready to make a run. However, if the Rockies want to win their first every NL West title, they must play better against the Dodgers.

Playing better against the Dodgers starts on Friday night in L.A.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on InDenverTimes.com

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