After three games against the Pirates, the Rockies were on the brink of losing 3-of-4 to the worst team in the National League. Luckily for the Rockies, the bats arrived at the ballpark and the Rockies salvaged a series split, winning 8-4.
Esmil Rogers, filling in for Aaron Cook, whose struggles landed him on the disabled list, did exactly what the Rockies needed him to do. He pitched six innings giving up three earned runs on eight hits. Rogers struck out three and walked just one Pirate hitter.
Rogers was helped out by a Rockies offense that finally decided to show up on the road. Colorado scored two runs in the first inning behind Carlos Gonzalez's 25th home run of the year, then added four in the second inning and two more in the third inning. The offensive performance was the most runs the club has scored on the road since a 10-0 victory over the Marlins on July 20th.
Splitting the four game set in Pittsburgh was definitely not what the Rockies had in mind. Sitting 6-1/2 games out of first place in the National League West race, the club must find a way to beat teams that they are better than. The Pirates qualify as one of those teams.
Despite the struggles in Pittsburgh, the fact is, the Rockies were one pitch away from winning the series. If Huston Street had thrown a strike to Garrett Jones instead of walking him, the club could be heading into New York feeling good about themselves. That fact should buy them some momentum.
Somehow, the Rockies need to find a way to play well in New York. Winning two out of three against the Mets would keep the Rockies exactly where they are, searching for a way to crawl back into the race. Right now they are lurking, not yet playing well enough to make them a true contender, but not far enough out of the race to write them off. If they win two, they will prolong the lurking status.
However, if the Rockies, who struggle dearly on the road, can somehow manage to sweep the Mets, they may have scratched their way back into the race just enough to be a true contender. Of course, a sweep is never easy, especially on the road, and especially against a team that is far better than the Pirates team that just took two from the Rockies.
The Rockies currently sit 4-1/2 games behind the Giants for the wild card lead and 6-1/2 behind the Padres in the NL West race (assuming the Padres hold their 6-0 late inning lead). The Rockies can call themselves contenders if they can get to within four games of the division lead by the beginning of September. Ideally they would like to be closer than that, but that is within striking distance. If, somehow, they can get to within two or three games, they will have as good of a chance as anyone to win the west.
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