|Jon Garland was the victim of bad defense on Sunday.|
The Colorado Rockies had the San Francisco Giants on the ropes in all three games, but failed to capitalize in the final two contests, resulting in losses. Sunday's 7-3 loss was particularly hard to swallow considering the way the team lost on Saturday, then bounced back to score two runs in the 1st inning on Sunday, yet still lost.
On Sunday, the issue was timely hitting. The Rockies forced Matt Cain into a corner in the 1st inning, walking Dexter Fowler and Nolan Arenado, then after a Carlos Gonzalez strike out, walked Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases. Michael Cuddyer drilled a two-run double to left field, giving the Rockies another early advantage.
In the 2nd, Gonzalez once again struck out, this time with runners at second and third base and a chance to pour on the runs. CarGo wasn't the only one to blame, on the day, the Rockies went a combined 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
As expected, the Giants chipped their way back into the game, finally sticking the dagger into the Rockies when DJ LeMahieu dropped a high pop fly that was wind-blown and swallowed up by the high sky in the 6th, scoring two Giants and keeping the inning alive.
The back-to-back losses might be tough to stomach for Rockies fans, but the reality is, from a long term perspective, this three game series should be encouraging. This team has come a very long way. Sure, they didn't get the job done when they needed to. They took bad at-bats when they could have turned a good inning into a great inning. They played bad defense and didn't get timely ground balls. There are plenty of negatives to point out.
However, this team fought. They played hard and they didn't quit all weekend long in San Francisco. It hasn't just been 2012 where the Rockies struggled against their division rival. This is a team that has long had the Rockies number, especially in San Francisco.
Remember back to recent seasons, the games in San Francisco weren't even worth watching. There was just a feel to games that the Rockies weren't even going to have a shot. They had that look in the dugout that they couldn't wait to get out of town and find a more friendly place to play.
This weekend never had that feel. There were times when it seemed like the Rockies weren't going to be able to get back in it on Sunday, but there wasn't ever a feel that the team was just going through the motions, waiting to hop on their flight to Houston. The Rockies genuinely looked like they believed they could beat this Giants team.
The series brought adversity to this team. They were the victims of bloop hits, soft ground balls that trickled through the infield, and other tough luck. They played through it, and ended up losing two out of three, but what a fan hopes for is that when the Rockies boarded the plane to Houston, they felt like they got robbed. The hope is that the Rockies left San Francisco with the realization that they may have lost two of three, but that the Giants weren't the better team.
The reality is, the Rockies played extremely well with the Giants. These aren't just the division champion Giants, these are the Giants that have won two rings in the past three years. This is a team that knows how to get the job done and knows how to win. This Rockies team, losers of 98 games a year ago, is good enough to compete with the Giants.
The other thought is that after the past two weekends, San Francisco is happy to have the Rockies leave town. The Rockies may have lost the final two games, but they didn't make it a fun weekend for San Francisco. Nothing that the Giants got came easy.
There are plenty of pessimists still out there in regards to the Rockies, and frankly, this team has earned that. They deserve to have skeptics and they deserve to have cynics. Those fans can quickly point out that this team doesn't win big games, their superstars don't have a good approach at the plate, and they can't hold down a lead. All of which are valid critiques. However, ask those same skeptics where in the standings the Rockies would be on Memorial Day and if the truth were given, it wouldn't be anywhere near what the Rockies are doing right now.
From here, the key for the Rockies is not to take a breath and relax because they are done with a tough road series. They fly to Houston and play a day game, which makes for a quick turnaround. However, with the Astros playing the way everyone expected them to, the Rockies need to come out with the same intensity that they have had in the first few innings of the San Francisco series. They need to steam roll the Astros, then fly home and do it all over again.
The Rockies need to continue to show growth and defeat the teams that they are better than. If the starting pitchers all do a decent job of keeping the Rockies in games, there is no excuse for the Rockies not to win three out of four against Houston.
After a hard fight in San Francisco, the Rockies are showing that they can compete with the best teams in the league. They are also showing that they won't back down to a challenge. Those are two things that bode well for the Rockies as they enter the summer.
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