Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rockies Suffer a Crushing Blow

When Ian Stewart hit the game-tying three run homer in the top of the 9th inning, things felt good. When Todd Helton, with all of his power zapped by a bad back, drilled a two-run home run in the top of the 10th, all of the pressure lifted. The Rockies were going to win the game that they should win, and put themselves right back in the playoff mix.

In stepped Huston Street to nail down the easy two-run save.

Not so fast.

Street gave up a lead off double, got two outs, then walked Rockie killer Garrett Jones on a full count. Pedro Alvarez then hit the no doubt walk off home run to right field.

The game raises questions about Huston Street's health. Is his shoulder feeling the way it should be? Is his mind in the right place?

The bigger question may be whether the home run was the nail in the coffin for the Rockies 2010 campaign. The loss comes on the same night as a Giants loss and a Padres loss. That allows the Rockies to breathe a sigh of relief. At the same time, the loss is that much more frustrating because with two months to go in a the season the Rockies must take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them.

A win on Saturday would have put the Rockies within 5-1/2 games of the division. That number is well within striking distance with over 50 games to go. While 6-1/2 games back is still close, the Rockies are their own greatest enemies. Losing the season series to the lowly Pirates is devastating.

If the Rockies fall a game or two short of the postseason, not only will the club look back on their 2-9 east coast road trip, but they will also look back on losing extremely winnable games to the Pirates late in the season.

Street will take the majority of the heat for the loss on Saturday, and he deserves his fair share. However, ignore the fact that the Rockies put up seven runs. This was an offense that could muster only four hits and one earned run in six innings against Pirate starter Ross Ohlendorf. Who? Yes, the same Ohlendorf who came into the game sporting a 1-9 record and an ERA in the mid fours.

Ohlendorf was just the latest below average pitcher to make the Rockies look foolish. The Colorado offense may have showed up late, but the fact of the matter is, if the Rockies came to the park ready to play they would have scored 12 runs instead of seven and they would have come up with a victory. Instead, it took them seven innings of lethargic baseball to wake up and their talent still allowed them to look like they would pick up the victory late.

The Rockies playoff hopes are still alive, but make no mistake, the path to the playoffs is going to take two things. First, the Rockies will have to go on a run. They will have to go through a stretch of 14 or 15 games in which they win 12 or 13. Second, the Padres are going to have to falter, and falter to the tune of a 10 game stretch in which they win only one or two games. All of that must happen and the Rockies must defeat the Giants four out of the six games in which they play each other. If all of that happens, the Rockies will raise the National League West flag. If that doesn't happen, the Rockies and their fans will be left to wonder what went wrong.

The Rockies put their hopes in Esmil Rogers on Sunday. He takes the spot of the "injured" Aaron Cook on the mound. If the club drops the game on Sunday, regardless of what the Padres and Giants do, they may as well cash it in. Morale will be so low that there will be little chance to recover.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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