Less than two weeks ago, the Rockies were poised to head into the All-Star break tied for first in the National League West. When the Rockies open their eight-game home stand on Tuesday night, they will find themselves eight games out of first place.
A horrible road trip, the longest of the season, saw the Rockies go 2-9. It was a trip that has long been seen as a hurdle for the Rockies to overcome. The heat and the humidity of Cincinnati, Florida and Philadelphia is tough for any player to play in. The Rockies, however, seemed to whither away in the elements.
The debate is whether or not this was the worst road trip in franchise history. With all due respect to the 1-9 road trip the featured four Brian Fuentes blown saves just prior to the All-Star break in 2007, this one takes the cake.
This road trip featured two walk off wins, three losses in which the Rockies had at least the tying run at the plate, and four come-from-behind victories by the opponent.
In fact, if the Rockies opponent scored at all in any of the games, they won. The Rockies only two victories were a 1-0 shutout of the Reds, one of the few strong performances by Aaron Cook all season, and a 10-0 victory over the Marlins in which Jeff Francis stated his case for staying in the rotation.
Those facts alone make it the worst road trip in franchise history, but because it happened to come on the heels of such an incredible home stand makes it that much more difficult to swallow.
So at eight games back, are the Rockies done?
The answer is not quite as easy as saying yes or no. Not at this point anyway.
However, it will be much easier to answer that question by the end of the weekend.
The Rockies begin a stretch of eight games at home. Six of them coming against teams that they are far superior to. The Pirates come to town starting on Tuesday for three games followed by Lou Piniella's last Coors Field stand with the Cubs. The reality is, the Rockies cannot afford to continue playing mediocre baseball. They rode the roller coaster all through April and May with the idea that they would hit on all cylinders after that. They did. Until they hit this road trip.
If the Rockies wave goodbye to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon and they have won less than four out of the six games, they may as well start planning for Spring Training in 2011.
Eight games in and of itself is not impossible to erase. However, the Rockies currently sit in fourth place in the National League West. That means that even when they gain a game or two on the division-leading Padres, they are most likely simply staying even with one of the other two teams ahead of them. Catching three teams ahead in the standings with just 60 games to go is extremely difficult.
If, however, the Rockies find a way to sweep one of their opponents, then take two-of-three from the other, then win the two game set against the Giants, it is not completely inconceivable to see them back in third, or possibly even second place in the West. That would put them squarely back in the thick of things and looking for their chance to overtake the Padres.
The fact remains however, that it is imperative for the Rockies to stop giving away games like they did on this road trip. They must find a way to put it all together for the remaining regular season games. They have played themselves into a situation where they simply cannot afford to not play their best baseball. They must bring their "A" game to the field each and every single night.
If they falter for even a week, they may find themselves as just another talented team who never figured it all out.
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