Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rockies keep the pressure on, win again

The Colorado Rockies continued their climb to the top of the standings on Saturday night, but it didn't come the way most probably thought it would. The result, however, is the same for the Rockies, who came from behind in the late innings to win 2-1.

With Ubaldo Jimenez taking the mound against Rodrigo Lopez, who came into the game with an ERA in the mid fives, it looked like the Rockies should crush the Diamondbacks. Lopez, however, dominated the Rockies for six strong innings before allowing a Melvin Mora base hit and a Ryan Spilborghs double in the 7th inning.

Jimenez, for his part, only gave up one run, but struggled with his command all night long. When he did throw strikes, the Diamondback hitters did a great job of fouling pitches off to drive up the right handers pitch count. Jimenez walked only one hitter, but was constantly behind in counts. At one point he had thrown a first pitch strike to just eight of the first 20 hitters that he faced.

The Rockies, however, seem to find a new way to win every single day. Just a few weeks ago these same Rockies couldn't buy a win and made it look like they had no sense of urgency. Suddenly they have woken up, and they know they have some work to do to catch up.

With the Giants and Padres duking it out over the weekend in San Diego, it makes things tough for the Rockies. If they lose, they know that they will lose a game in the standings. At this point, that would be devastating. However, a win guarantees that they gain a game on one of the opponents in front of them.

Saturday night's win guarantees that they club will go into a pivotal three-game set at Coors Field with the Padres on Monday with no more than a 3.5 game deficit.

The Rockies got hot at the right time, if not the very last possible chance that they had to get hot. However, no matter what they have done to get to this point, they cannot afford to take a game off. If they drop their series to San Diego. Losing two of those games would mean that the Rockies drop a game to the Padres and most likely lose ground to the Giants as well. At that point, they would be heading into a six-game trip on the road with deficit of more than four games. Recovering from that is not impossible, but it would be very difficult, especially given the Rockies struggles on the road.

The nine-game winning streak has been fun for the Rockies and their fans. However, the work is far from done. They can ill-afford to come back down any time soon. Even if they were to overtake the Giants and the Padres, the reality is, they still have to win games to hold that lead up. With an off day on Thursday, it may give the club a chance to take a breath. However, it would be easy for them to let up before then, they have not had a day off since August 26th, the day after they swept the Braves at home. That seems like two months ago at this point.

Keeping focused will be just as difficult of a job for the Rockies. They must not let down or give in to the weakness that they might be feeling in their bodies after not only a long stretch of consecutive games, but a long season at this point as well. Those three games against the Padres are the most meaningful three games at Coors Field all season long. If the Rockies win two of those, or somehow find a way to pull off another sweep, they will be in very good shape moving forward.

The consequences of losing, however, are not fun to think about for the club.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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