Saturday, June 2, 2012

Colorado Rockies win streak ends at five

The Rockies look for the series win on Sunday.
Carlos Gonzalez can't do it everyday.

On Saturday the Colorado Rockies looked more like the team from the middle of May, not the team from the end of May. They lost to the Dodgers 6-2, ending their five-game winning streak.

The hero of the past week, Gonzalez came up in a situation to do damage. After DJ LaMahieu grounded a ball into center field to start the 5th inning, and Matt Reynolds advanced him to second base on a sacrifice bunt, Marco Scutaro and Dexter Fowler both walked, loading the bases for the hottest hitter in baseball.

Gonzalez stepped to the plate, but unlike his at-bats that have almost certainly made him the National League player of the week, CarGo was way out in front of an off-speed pitch, making the count 0-1. Again, Gonzalez got out in front of a pitch, fouling it high in the air, but playable for Dodgers third baseman Elian Herrera. Gonzalez knew he had given away a golden opportunity. He slammed his bat to the ground, splintering it at the plate.

In the 7th inning, the Venezuelan came back to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly walked to the mound to get lefty specialist Scott Elbert. This time, Gonzalez waited back on his pitch. He drilled it, but right at first baseman James Loney who started a double play to end the inning.

The Rockies had their man at the plate at the right times. They simply didn't get the job done. That is just baseball sometimes.

As much as the Rockies have convinced many of their faithful fans that they still might have a chance to get back into the race, games like Saturday's are reminders of why it is going to be so difficult.

Baseball is such an odd sport. Sometimes a team can have the perfect situation, the perfect person at the plate, the right guy at the right time. Sometimes they can have that happen to them twice in the same game. Often times that guy is going to come through, but sometimes he is going to fail. Much like Gonzalez's at-bat in the 7th, it had nothing to do with taking a bad at-bat, but rather just hitting it in the wrong spot.

So many aspects of the game are fluky that to overcome a big deficit like the Rockies find themselves in is extremely difficult. The margin for error is so slim that normal odds would suggest that even the hottest hitter in the game will eventually not come through. Sometimes that guy will hit the ball hard, but it will just land in the wrong spot, or find someone's mitt.

The Rockies also find themselves in a situation where an injury to anyone on the team could be devastating. On Saturday Juan Nicasio left the game after injuring his knee on a ball hit up the middle. Obviously it is too early to know the extent of the injury, but losing Nicasio, who has had his ups and downs in 2012, but remains the most talented pitcher in the Rockies rotation, could prove to be devastating.

On Saturday, things simply didn't bounce the Rockies way. However, the good news for them is that they have a chance to go out and win a game on Sunday and take the series from the Dodgers. A win would put them 9-1/2 games out of first place in the National League West. That isn't a number that is small by any means, but in early June would suggest that there still might be a glimmer of hope.

The fact is, however, that the Rockies cannot afford another rough stretch of baseball. They must play at a high level for the remainder of the season. The margin for error is slim. They have to be nearly  perfect. That is the hole that they got themselves into with a terrible May.

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