Monday, August 2, 2010

Rockies Hold On For Sweep of Cubs

A sweep is never easy to accomplish.

The Rockies found that out in the 9th inning on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field. Heading into the 9th, the Rockies had what looked to be a secure 8-4 lead. The Cubs had been chipping away at the lead, but the result never seemed in doubt. Not until Alphonso Soriano hit what looked to be his second home run of the day.

That is where Dexter Fowler stole the stage. The speedy center fielder raced to the right-center field wall, jumped and made a spectacular catch while running into the wall. Fowler remained down, but the out was recorded.

Huston Street went on to retire the next hitter and finish off the Cubs, completing the three game sweep with a 8-7 victory.

The sweep was of utmost importance to the Rockies. After a road trip that saw them go 2-9 and an eight game losing streak, the Rockies were watching their playoff dreams go up in smoke. The weekend series, coupled with the division-leading Padres dropping 2-of-3 to the Marlins at home, gave the Rockies a glimmer of hope.

If the Rockies want to realize their National League West dream they cannot falter again as they did after the All-Star break.

The club currently sits seven games behind the Padres, with the Giants in between. With just under 60 games left to be played, the Rockies must gain at least one game out of every 10 games played. That means if the Padres go on a streak where they win 8-of-10, the Rockies must counter with a 9-of-10 stretch. That is difficult by any measurement.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, what they are going to need to win the division is some help from other teams. It is always nice to have destiny in one's hands, like the Rockies did before the All-Star break. That, however, is not a possibility at this point.

To be optimistic for the Rockies, the best way to look at their situation is to know that in a 162 game season, every team finds themselves in a losing streak, playing bad baseball at some point. The Rockies endured their stretch right after the break. The Braves lost nine in a row in May, the Phillies lost eight in a row before sweeping the Rockies. Even good teams go through a bad stretch at some point. The Padres have yet to find themselves in a losing streak that long. At some point, odds are, it will happen.

With the sweep of the Cubs, the Rockies might have found themselves playing good baseball at just the right time. The Padres, beginning on Tuesday, find themselves playing 17 of their next 20 games on the road. Without the comfortable pitching confines of Petco Park, coupled with the fact that their young pitching staff is nearing career longs in innings pitched, San Diego may have the perfect recipe for struggles.

While the Padres may find their struggles, the fact is, the Giants are only 1-1/2 games behind the Padres, and frankly, may be the bigger threat. The Rockies have won every series in 2010 against San Diego, San Francisco, however is a different story.

The Rockies stole one series on the road in San Francisco, but the fact is, the club struggles in that ballpark. When Colorado puts up three runs it feels like an offensive outburst.

That means that the Rockies must play well when they play the Giants at home. The Rockies have five more home games against the Giants. Two starting on Tuesday night and three more at the end of September. If they want the three at the end of September to mean anything, they must do well in the two game set.

When, and if, the Padres and Giants find themselves struggling, the Rockies must take advantage. If they struggle while one of the two teams struggle, they may as well start thinking about Spring Training.

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  1. You know, for 1 day I kind of relished the idea that the Rox were done for the season. Sitting at Coors Field Saturday night I did not get overly upset when Lee tied it. Then Cargo won the game and it felt like just a nice entertaining game to be a fan at.

    Now, 1 game later we sit something like 3.5 back of the NLWC lead with 2 months to go, and the team is playing great with division rivals coming into town. Here we go again....

  2. Miketober-
    I don't want to burst your bubble, but the Rox are actually 5-1/2 games behind the Giants for the Wild Card lead. Regardless, I get what you are saying. The Rockies have done what they have become so good at doing and have reeled their fans back in. They may break our hearts this season, but they won't fade away so we have to pay attention until the very end.
    The road is not going to be easy for the Rockies, but while I don't think the Padres will fade away, I think that they will go through a tough stretch at some point. When, and if, that happens, the Rockies need to take advantage. They cannot afford to only gain one or two games if the Padres lose 7 of 10 or something like that. They have to be ready to pounce when those teams falter.