|Jhoulys Chacin blew a six-run lead for the Rockies.|
Of course, which 42 games those defining games are is for anyone to guess.
In a season with 162 games, teams are going to win games that they should have lost, and lose games that they should have won. However, there are often a couple of games throughout a season that a team can point to as season-defining games.
After the Colorado Rockies, losers of 10 straight games to the San Francisco Giants, blew a six run lead that they built on San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain, it would be hard not to think that the Rockies have officially shifted into non-contender mode.
Sure, it was just one game. However, the Rockies are coming off of a horrible road trip, which saw them not only lose four-of-six games, but also saw them nearly get no-hit twice, and get completely shutdown offensively two other times. If that road trip was the only blemish, it might be excusable. The problem is, the road trip came immediately following a 2-4 homestand in which the bats went silent against the Yankees.
By all accounts, this seven-game homestand was a critical juncture in the 2013 season. With the recent slide, this team has to decide if they are actually contenders, or if their hot April start was simply a fluke.
When the offense showed up and scored six early runs, blasting three homers off of Cain, and starter Jhoulys Chacin looked like he had his best stuff, it seemed like the Rockies were serious about making some noise and turning around their woeful May. However, the scoring stopped after the six runs were scored and the Giants were able to scrape their way back into the game.
Games like Thursday night's show a team like the Rockies what it takes to actually be a contender. The Giants, World Champions two of the last three years, know how to win. They don't count on luck, they go out and methodically destroy baseball teams. If they are far behind, they don't give up, they don't swing for the fences and live for the grand slam, they slowly chip away at the lead. They use every out productively and find a way to get back in the game.
The Giants know that their starting pitching is good enough that, even if the starter doesn't have it for the first few innings, that odds are he will figure it out and be able to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding is stopped, it gives their offense a chance to crawl back into the game. That is exactly what happened on Thursday night at Coors Field.
The Rockies have two options after the embarrassing loss. They can either come back to the ballpark on Friday night with a bone to pick, or they can cash it in. They can look at their record and realize that no one expected them to be around .500 at any point in the season, and feel like they have made it further than anyone believed they could be.
If the Rockies let contentment creep in, if they believe that their April success was a fluke, then the whole mindset of this team will quickly change. This will quickly look like the 2012 team that seemed destined to lose 100 games, but couldn't even do that.
The Rockies season hit a critical point on Thursday night. They can battle back and find ways to at least split the series with the Giants, and win the series against the Diamondbacks, or they can be content with how much progress they actually made. They can be content with winning 68 or 69 games and move forward, chalking the 2013 season up to experience.
Fans won't have to wait until June or July to figure out if this team can contend. Simply said, if they don't bounce back in a serious way over the weekend, this is a lost season. If they come out and play as if nothing happened and shake it off, they could stay in the hunt all season long.
The answer will arrive by Sunday afternoon.
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