|The Rockies need a big start from Jordan Lyles on Friday.|
After a great finish on Tuesday night, then sleep-walking through Wednesday's game, Thursday was going to tell who the better team was. The Rockies had their ace, Jorge De La Rosa on the mound, going against Tim Hudson, a pitcher who simply continues to pitch well despite getting older and battling through injuries.
Despite leading just 1-0, the rain came at the worst time for the Rockies. Through two innings, Hudson had thrown 50 pitches and clearly didn't have his good stuff. The Rockies bats were coming around for the second time through, and there was a feeling that they would scratch a couple of runs off of him. Instead, the skies opened up and caused both teams to lose their starters, then opened up again and finished off the tie game, which will be concluded in September when the teams meet again at Coors Field.
The rain is unfortunate for the Rockies for several reasons. First, they essentially lost the start of their ace. De La Rosa went three scoreless innings in a game that he won't factor in. He is now done for five days. Coming off a seven-inning, one-hit performance, the last thing the Rockies needed was for his day to be wasted.
Second, the long delay, with the game not being called until 6:07 pm, put the Rockies in a position where their flight to Atlanta, which would already get them in close to midnight local time, would be even later. With a nine-game road trip kicking off on Friday night against a team in the Braves who have phenomenal pitching, the Rockies certainly don't need to be short on sleep.
Fans were looking at the three-game set as a good litmus test for the Rockies. It would give everyone an idea of who this team really is. However, the real test comes over the next week-and-a-half. No one needs to be reminded of the Rockies road woes. Anyone who has followed this team for any amount of time knows that their biggest issue in their existence has been figuring out how to win on the road.
The Rockies face the Braves for three games, then go to Philadelphia for three games, then to Cleveland to face a hot Indians team for three there. It is the longest road trip of the season for the Rockies, and it might define who they are.
For the Rockies, when they go out on the road, it seems like one bad game snowballs for them. It seems like they can never turn the page from a bad loss. Just like a huge win can shift the momentum, a troublesome loss can make this team spiral. Historically, the Rockies offense disappears for one game on the road, then won't re-emerge until they return home.
That should be bothersome to Rockies fans as they start the road trip against the Braves. While Atlanta's lineup hasn't been great, their pitching staff has been phenomenal. That poses a problem for the Rockies. If they aren't able to scratch out a few runs each day and figure out one or two of the Braves starters, it could get in the team's heads and make them think that they indeed can't win on the road.
The Rockies best chance to take a game in Atlanta comes on Friday, with Jordan Lyles looking to bounce back from his first bad outing of the season. He faces Gavin Floyd, who has been decent, but is still looking to prove himself after missing most of 2013. From there, the Rockies send Juan Nicasio, then Franklin Morales to the mound. Expecting either of them to be great is a reach, and with Mike Minor and Julio Tehran going for the Braves, there won't be much margin for error.
While it isn't necessarily fun for fans to watch the Rockies go out on the road, this trip should be one they are excited about. If this team is truly a contender, a decent road trip should confirm that this team may in fact be very good. A bad trip might put things into perspective for the Rockies and show the areas where they still need to experience growth.
Regardless, in nine days, we should know much more about this Rockies team. Are they good enough to compete all season long, or will their traditional road issues rare their ugly head again and show that the Rockies simply aren't good enough to compete to the level that they need to compete.
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