Friday, July 15, 2011

Colorado Rockies start second half with a bang

If the Colorado Rockies want to play in meaningful games in September, they are going to have to play like they did on Thursday night far more frequently.

Going into the 2011 season, most expected far more games like this. Twenty hits from an offense that has depth and talent, and a pitching performance that featured a guy actually pitching, rather than just throwing.

Maybe a break is what this team needed. Maybe they needed to get their legs back underneath them after a grueling first half. Whatever it is, the Rockies seemed like the team that they promised to be way back in February. They seemed like a team capable of making the playoffs.

Playing in October is going to take a miracle from the Rockies, but this group of baseball players knows drama better than the halls of a junior high school. If there is a team who is going to put their fans through another agonizing stretch trying to make up ground that never should have been lost, it is the Rockies.

Coming back from such a huge deficit is more draining on the mind then on the body. To wit, the Rockies put 20 hits on the board, defeated a very good Milwaukee Brewers team, and look ready to battle in the second half, then look up and see that they didn't gain a single game in the standings after the Giants rallied for four runs in the 12th inning against the Padres. Eventually, not gaining ground takes a mental toll.

This next week will go a long way in determining whether this team is cooked or if they actually have a chance to make yet another run at the playoffs. Simply put, if they stumble at all in this eight game home stand, they may as well pack it in. They cannot afford to go 4-4, or even 5-3. They have to find a way to put together a statement home stand. That means that they must win each four game set at the least, going 6-2. A 7-1 home stand, while difficult, would most likely put the club right back into the thick of things.

The good news for the Rockies is the names of guys who recorded hits on Thursday. Ian Stewart had two doubles, Chris Iannetta recorded two hits, and Ryan Spilborghs had his best night of the season, going 4-for-6 out of the leadoff spot with a home run, a double and four runs batted in.

Those are three names that must contribute for the Rockies to be successful. Those are guys who the Rockies are leaning on to pull their weight. They simply cannot win if they are solely depending on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

If the Rockies want to make noise in the playoff race, games like Thursday's have to be commonplace, not once in a while.

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