With a 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night, the Rockies moved closer in the standings to the Padres in the West than they are to the Phillies in the Wild Card. All of this coming a work week after being within 3-1/2 games of the Phillies.
Such is life for the Colorado Rockies in 2010.
Aaron Cook, pitching for the first time since a mystery turf toe injury happened to reappear when the team wanted Jhoulys Chacin back in the rotation, looked like the Aaron Cook that pitched himself into the All-Star game in 2008. For the first time all season long, Cook pitched with a sinker that was going exactly where he wanted it to go. He worked ahead in the count and pitched to the spots he was looking to hit.
In all, Cook pitched 6-1/3 strong innings. He gave up two runs on four hits. He struck out three and walked four, one of which was essentially intentional when he walked Adrian Gonzalez on five pitches when he had a base open and two outs.
The victory saw two phenomenal defensive plays in the 6th inning. Melvin Mora made a barehanded catch and throw on a Miguel Tejada chopper that went 50 feet off of home plate. Later, Jason Giambi made a great diving stop and dove back to first base to record the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. In hindsight, Giambi's play may have won the game for the Rockies.
With five games left against the Padres, and three against the Giants at Coors Field, the Rockies now shift their focus back to what their original goal was going into the 2010 campaign, winning the National League West.
At 6-1/2 games back, they are most definitely a longshot. However, with the Padres in a freefall, partially because they were due for a setback and partially because their young pitching may have hit a wall, and with the Giants still within reach, the Rockies potentially could make a run.
What will be required, however, if the Rockies do want to win the West, is a road resurgence. The Rockies won with four runs on Friday. That was the most runs the Rockies have scored on the road since August 11th, when Melvin Mora hit a grand slam to lift the Rockies over the Mets 6-4. A four run offensive output being haled as a resurgence underscores the issues that Colorado has had away from Coors Field.
If the Rockies want to win, they must beat the teams in front of them when they play head to head. Sweeps in baseball are never to be expected, especially on the road, but this club must find a way to sweep the Padres and get within 4-1/2 games of the division lead if they have any chance of crawling back into the race.
The Rockies are going to need 90 wins to get into the playoffs. That means that they must win 20 more games in 28 more chances. That will not be easy, but if there is a team who cannot be written off in September it is the Colorado Rockies. One thing is certain. The Rockies will know whether they are in the race or not by the end of the day on Sunday.
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