Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matt Cain ends Colorado Rockies playoff chances

The lesson was nothing new for the Rockies. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are very tough to hit. They are a huge reason why the Giants are leading the National League West despite having nothing more than an average Major League lineup.

The Rockies were reminded of how good Cain actually is on Sunday as they dropped the rubber match of a three game set that was essentially a must-win for the Rockies 4-2.

In true Colorado Rockies fashion, the club made a late game run, despite being dominated by the Giants righty all day long. Melvin Mora blasted a two run homer two batters after Jay Payton broke up Cain's no-hit bid with one out in the 8th inning. It wasn't enough, however, as the Rockies couldn't beat Cain again in the 9th.

Once again, it was an example not of how losing in September can be costly, but rather how playing from behind in the standings late in the year is a risky proposition.

Count on the fact that everyone in the Rockies clubhouse knows that the idea of winning out in September is not the best strategy to get into the playoffs. However, after late season runs in both 2007 and 2009, there clearly is a mentality in the clubhouse that it is never too late to come from behind.

That is a good mentality for a club to have because it proves that they will never quit. They could be 11 games out of the race, as they were in late August, and still believe that they have a chance to go to the playoffs.

The other side of that coin, however, is a dark one. It also makes the club lose their sense of urgency. Instead of feeling like they needed to win very important games way back in July and August, the Rockies played as if they had all the time in the world to make a run. That mentality contributes to a lackluster mentality, and a feeling on the road of simply getting through road trips instead of winning as many games as they can.

The Rockies are, for all intents and purposes, out of the race. They could win all of their games and still fall well short of the playoffs. They need two teams to essentially run out of gas to have any chance at the postseason.

It is always a difficult thing to realize that a team that is as talented as these Rockies are to fall short and see the final seven games of the year be completely meaningless. The fact is, if the Rockies played to their potential, they would have won the west by four games. Instead, they are making plans for vacations in October instead of postseason plans.

The Rockies still have quite a bit to look forward to. A new spring training home in the Phoenix metro area should go a long way for the Rockies having a better start to their season. Instead of seeing Triple-A pitchers and having starters like Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton rarely making long bus rides to play in games, the club should have their full squad available most of the spring.

The core of the Rockies will still be playing at Coors Field in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki will be back to lead the charge and only there will only be a few free agent decisions that have to be made.

The Rockies have a bright future. While 2010 was not as bright as the franchise was hoping for, it was a year full of lessons learned and maturing.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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