The way the Colorado Rockies have played in 2011, at Coors Field in particular, a sweep in front of the home crowd was a welcome sight, no matter if they were playing a Houston Astros team that has already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
It is amazing how quickly the mind can forget. The Rockies have won five straight games at Coors Field for the first time in 2011. In years past, five in a row, to go along with three consecutive winning series, was commonplace in the past. This season, however, has been a different story.
What is the difference? Over the five games, the Rockies have averaged 7.2 runs per game. That kind of offensive firepower is going to produce winning baseball at any park.
Seeing the Rockies creep up in the standings is encouraging. It tells fans that their team isn't quite done yet. However, it is also frustrating. If the Rockies simply would have played .500 baseball since the All-Star break, they would currently be sitting three games out of first place in the National League West.
Currently, the club is 8-1/2 games out and making a true run is going to take a winning streak of Rocktober proportion. The odds of the Rockies climbing all the way back into the race is very small.
Part of the issue for this club is that they aren't just chasing one team. If they were in second place and 8-1/2 games back, they would have an easier time hoping to get some help along the way from the team in front of them struggling. Two teams in front of the club means that both teams have to falter, and not just for a week or two, they essentially have to fall apart.
The Rockies are a club that is not unfamiliar with late season runs. Since 2007 they have been a better team after the All-Star break than before it every season.
At this point, it is premature to say that the Rockies are even a longshot to make the postseason. The reality is, any chance that they had to get back into this race has been given away time and time again. They are not a postseason team. If they were, they would have seized opportunities long-since passed.
However, the team playing well is still encouraging. This team, with all of it's disappointments, has been on the verge of the front office contemplating blowing it up and starting over, building around Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. A late run, however, could convince ownership to stick with a few more of the current players and see if they can make it all come together in 2012.
Improvement is the key at this point for the Rockies. It would be easy for this team to quit and start going through the motions, so to see fight left in them is a good sign for the future.