After a pathetic 6-1 loss on Thursday night to the National League's worst team, the Rockies had two choices. Win and have a glimmer of hope in the playoff race, or lose and start looking forward to next season.
The Rockies chose option number one, defeating the Pirates 6-3 to at least stay within 7-1/2 games of the division leading Padres and 5-1/2 games behind the wild card leading Giants, both of which were losing when the Rockies sealed the victory.
The win for the Rockies was more than just a win on the road, something that would have been impressive enough. The win may have lifted the monkey off the Rockies back.
During their 2-9 road trip that may be remembered for killing the clubs playoff chances, the offense simply could not get the job done. With runners in scoring position they failed. With the bases empty they failed. Early in the game they failed. Late in the game they failed. The same trend seemed to begin again on Thursday night.
Fortunately for the Rockies, they broke through mentally on Friday night.
Carlos Gonzalez helped get things going, blasting a home run to deep center field in the 1st inning. The Rockies continued to build on their lead, getting out to a 3-0 lead.
Jason Hammel was pitching a phenomenal game until he gave up a game-tying three run shot to Pedro Alvarez.
It looked like it was all going to start over again, with the Rockies giving up a lead and quitting on the offensive side. That is exactly what would have happened on the clubs last time out on the road.
This time, however, the Rockies decided enough was enough and instead of becoming tentative when the Pirates began their attack, they counter punched. Carlos Gonzalez came up with a base hit, then moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored when Troy Tulowitzki knocked a single to left field off of Chan Ho Park, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead.
Maybe the Rockies got over the hump on Friday. Maybe they figured out that they don't have to press on the road, that they can approach the game the same way on the road as they do at home. Maybe they learned that the never-say-die attitude that they so often play with at Coors Field can come with them on the road.
Friday was an example of that happening. Whether that becomes a trend depends on whether the Rockies can decide to make it a trend. If they want to make the playoffs, they cannot be intimidated on the road. They must believe in themselves and find ways to win baseball games on the road, especially when they are playing teams that they are far superior to.
The Rockies, to be frank, are in a position that they cannot under perform on the road, or at home. They cannot give games away. If they have October aspirations, they must find a way to get to 90 wins, and even that might not do it.
To win 90 games, the Rockies are going to have to win 33 more games in their final 53 games. Is that possible? Anyone who has followed the Rockies over the years knows that counting this club out when they are within striking distance in September is crazy. Never bet against the Rockies.
However, to win 33 more games, the Rockies simply must start hitting on all cylinders. They have yet to play to their potential all season long. Even during their push before the All Star break, the Rockies pitchers were not pulling their weight. To make the playoffs, this team must find a way to reach it's potential in a hurry. If not, they will find themselves watching the playoffs on TV.
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