|Jorge De La Rosa has earned the right to have a bad outing.|
The Braves came from five runs down, then answered the Rockies again, climbing back over Colorado after the Rockies had regained the lead. After a blown save in the 9th inning, the Braves beat Edgmer Escalona and the Rockies with a walk-off double to left-center field, giving the Braves a 9-8 victory.
The loss spoiled a five-hit night for Carlos Gonzalez. The outburst came after not seeing a Major League pitch since Thursday. Although the national media is determined to discount the performances of anyone who plays half of their games at Coors Field, CarGo has shown that he is the real deal. He can hit anywhere. He is one of the games elite.
The talk of the loss might center around Jorge De La Rosa. The Rockies lefty simply didn't have his best stuff. A huge error at third base by Nolan Arenado didn't help when the Braves scored six runs in the 3rd inning to erase a 5-0 Rockies lead. De La Rosa still gave up five earned runs in five innings. He lived around the center of the plate too often and a great hitting Braves team made him pay for it.
De La Rosa didn't have his best stuff, but it's not really fair to blame him. A pitcher is allowed to have a bad start every now and then, especially when he has been been nothing short of an All-Star since the middle of May. Even with his bad outing, De La Rosa still possesses an ERA of 3.21.
What the loss highlights is why it is so important for teams like the Rockies to win games that they have an advantage in. Despite phenomenal pitching performances, the Rockies continued to lose games that they had a chance to win. The offense sputtered, not getting dominated, but instead defeating themselves by taking bad at-bats over and over again. Instead of taking responsibility for the losses, the answer from the top down is how much of the season is left to play.
Everyone knows that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. That is the message that the Rockies continue to feed their fan base. The problem is, in a marathon, a runner has to run fast enough to be able to pass the pace setter when the time comes to make a move.
The way the Rockies are running their marathon season is by walking, not picking up the pace at all, and as the leader hits mile marker 18, the Rockies simply talk about how there is still plenty of race to be run, and that their walking pace is just about right. At some point, even if the Rockies go on a run, it won't be enough to get them back into the race.
The other famous saying in baseball is that every team will win 60 games and every team will lose 60 games, how a team finishes will be defined by the other 42 games in-between. Those 42 other games can come at any time. They are defining games. Usually when a starting pitcher goes out and gives his team a seven run outing with two or less runs, that is a game that should be in the win column. This Rockies team has taken several games from the win column and put it in the loss column.
The Rockies had a real chance to win eight of their 10 games at home after the All-Star Break. Instead, they dropped three winnable games and ended with a 5-5 record. Even if they had taken two of the three games their starting pitcher gave them a chance to win, a lose like Monday night's in Atlanta doesn't hurt as much. Now, as the Rockies have blown several chances, they find themselves with their backs against the wall.
Some still believe that it is too early to panic for the Rockies. However, on Monday night, they got an example of just how far away from being a contender they are. The Braves, a team that has a serious chance to bring home a World Series title, found a way to come from behind and win a baseball game that they didn't deserve to win. They gave up runs, but battled back, taking good at-bats, working counts, and getting good situational hitting. If the Rockies had done that a few times throughout their homestand, they would be in a much different place.
It is easy to be tough on the Rockies. They haven't played good baseball since the middle of May, and frankly, that is unacceptable and inexcusable. However, the reality is, if someone would have told a Rockies fan in March that this team would be five games under .500 and 6-1/2 games out of the National League West race, most fans would have deemed the season a success.
To a certain degree, that is a cop-out. This team is far more talented than that. They should be better than what their record suggests. However, they haven't turned the corner. Their is plenty to improve. The true measuring stick of this team's desire to win will come in the final two months of the season. Will they demand excellence, or will the status quo be just fine for them?
If this Rockies team continues to take bad at-bats and doesn't get any better, the final record doesn't matter. However, if this team shows heart and fights until the end of the season, improving on the basic fundamentals of the game, this season, even without a .500 record or without the playoffs, can still be deemed a step forward.
However, until the Rockies demand excellence, until they have a standard that mediocre baseball is unacceptable, the only time they will make postseason appearances is when they get a little bit lucky. That doesn't mean that 2007 and 2009 involved luck, but the team had put themselves in a position where they simply couldn't make mistakes, they had their backs against the wall, and barely were able to revive their seasons.
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