It isn't too often that a 21 year-old is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before he has been on an Opening Day roster. That is what happened with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. The lefty slugger was a one man demolition crew for the Braves, belting two home runs, a two-run shot in the first, and a solo bomb in the eighth.
That pretty much sums up the Rockies performance on a 4th of July that didn't have many fireworks on the field for the Rockies.
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched well, but made two mistakes, one to Freeman in the first and another to Freeman's best friend and minor league roommate Jason Heyward in the sixth. Heyward's shot almost left to deep center field, but instead bounced off the top of the wall, and after a poor transfer from Jonathan Herrera, allowed Brian McCann to score from first base.
If the final score wasn't bad enough, the Rockies also had another scare. For the second time in as many days, the Rockies potentially lost a star player to injury. Troy Tulowitzki, running out a double play, pulled up lame and came out of the game with tightness in his left quad. As of this moment, Tulowitzki is listed as day-to-day and the injury isn't classified as anything more than tightness, but if the All-Star shortstop misses any significant time, the Rockies may as well start preparing for 2012.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, they have a chance to really bury themselves in the National League West race before heading into the All-Star break. With three more games in Atlanta against a great pitching staff, and then three games in Washington, the club could easily find themselves nine games out of first place heading into the break.
The reality is, if they can manage to stay right where they are, they have a chance to make a run in the second half. If they allow this to become a horrible road trip, it could serve the same consequences that the 11-games stretch right after the All-Star break in 2010 represented.
The Rockies need to find a way to start scratching out wins on the road and against good pitchers. If they don't start doing that now, they will have no room for error in the second half of the season.